It stands to reason: if the 1960s pop hit Born To Be Wild could describe John Potter before he got saved—his born-again experience several years ago made John a “new creature” in Christ, urging him to be more like Jesus everyday.
John spent many of his adult years in California, where he was a foot-soldier in what he calls, “an infamous motorcycle gang.” Today, he’s traded his black leather jacket for a Salvation Army uniform—his long goatee and numerous tattoos notwithstanding.
He still has his Harley Ultra Classic, on which he says he “now ride for Christ!”
For 25 years, John rode among that notorious bike club, doing things for them as he was told—things that he admits were shady, if not downright illegal.
“I was wild,” John admits. “For two and ha half decades of my life I rode with a bunch of bad guys with little or no remorse. I wasn’t afraid of anything or anybody.”
John says that he “never fully understood” the awfulness of what he was doing as a “foot-soldier.” Something must have begun to happen in John’s heart during the last few years he rode with the gang. He became under conviction by the Holy Spirit, and in those last months, John was planning to do the unthinkable: walk away from that “brotherhood.”
He did just that, about six years ago, when he turned his handlebars toward Wyoming. He went home to Casper.
“I hit town on a Saturday evening, and Casper was pretty much shut down for the night,” he says. “I saw a motorcycle in front of the Salvation Army Hope Center, so I pulled over and went in.”
With no money and only a couple of uncashed paychecks in his pocket, John was hungry but had no way to pay for a meal.
“I spotted a gallon of milk in the cooler and I said to the Salvation Army worker, ‘I’d do anything for that milk. If you could give me until Monday to cash these checks, I’ll come back and pay for it.’”
The lady’s unexpected reply floored John: “We don’t sell this stuff. We give it away to anyone who needs it!”
In addition to the milk, John got a hot meal. It was just too much for him to imagine! The Salvation Army does nothing but good for so many people; and here John had spent most of his life, until that moment, doing so much bad to so many people.
“I immediately felt that this is where I belonged—2500 volunteer hours later I was still happily working alongside these Salvationists,” he says.
That was five years ago. John had given all those volunteer hours over the course of a little over a year. By that time, the corps officer offered John a job, as a regular cook and warehouse manager.
Today John cooks all the meals at the Army’s center, some 150 per day and 600-700 each week. He is also on a four-man team for the Army’s Casper Emergency Canteen. In disasters involving the Intermountain Division, John estimates that his team has served “a half-million meals—easily.”
John knows that riding away from that “hellish” brotherhood resulted in a real, eternal brotherhood with other followers of Christ.
By Major Frank Duracher