A large red cross with silver wings is embroidered into leather on the backs of motorcycle riders in Claiborne County. This is because of New Tazewell resident Steve Johnson.
Johnson started the Iron Eagle Disciples four years ago to give motorcyclists a positive, safe, Christ-centered group of riding buddies. This small group of enthusiasts has grown to more than 30 members.
“It was once just a group of guys who liked riding and being in benefit rides, but it kind of turned into something more. There’s a lot of churches out there that, a lot of times, need a roof or a Sunday school room or even indoor toilets sometimes and we can help with that and that’s what got it started,” said Johnson.
Members of the Iron Eagle Disciples travel throughout eastern Tennessee and Kentucky to church fundraisers, Christian events and club outings to raise funds and awareness for their cause.
On various trips, Johnson and the Iron Eagle Disciples have had interactions with strangers — both positive and negative. They have distributed copies of the Bible, approached and asked for prayer, and been shunned for the cross on their back and their beliefs as, but it doesn’t stop the group from staying true to what they feel is right.
Johnson recalls using club funds to pay for a local church to have heat during the winter, thereby significantly raising the attendance at the church and allowing it to keep its doors open.
“She called and told me that because of what we did, they even saved a few people this spring. That feels good, to know that we’re helping like that and what we’ve got going on is a good thing,” said Johnson.
Johnson, a Knoxville native, has been riding motorcycles since he was 18. He is often joined on his bike by wife of 37 years, Debbie. Johnson has managed an auto parts store for more than 30 years and recently retired from Advance Auto Parts in Maynardville.
Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.