By MARK MAYNARD, Kentucky Today
LANCASTER, Ky. (KT) – Anthony Jones was the baddest of the bad, an outlaw motorcycle gang member with the nickname of Boogeyman.
His marriage was on the rocks and he was estranged from his children. He had just come home after spending 166 days in jail for breaking a man’s jaw.
And his life was about to be changed forever.
Gary Carringer, an associate pastor at Lancaster Baptist, and a deacon named Eddie Woods walked down the isolated street where Jones was living. Looking back on it now, Carringer said it was an urging from God that sent them down the road that only had about eight houses on it.
“People walking down that street was kind of rare,” Jones said. “I had just got out of jail that morning. It was later in the afternoon, about 5 or 6 o’clock. I was sitting there with a pistol beside me.”
Jones looks the part of a motorcycle gang member. He’s 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds with tattoos up and down his arms and his hair tied in a ponytail. His arms are the size of a grown man’s thighs.
Carringer and Woods approached him anyway with Vacation Bible School flyers. But this intentional meeting wasn’t about VBS. It turned out to be the first step for Jones to become a Christian.
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“Me and Gary got to talking,” Jones said. “I told him my story. I was in a bad marriage. My wife had left me and I was driving a truck for a living. I’d come home on Thanksgiving to an empty home and empty bank account.”
Carringer was bold and told Jones if he was interested in changing his life that he could help him in a STEPS recovery program. Jones was interested but there was other business to handle before he could do anything.
“I was trying to get out of the club and get out the right way,” he said. “I told him, ‘I will be back in five or six months.’ He called me six months later. I was still struggling with addiction but trying to get out of it.”
He befriended a man who helped him get out of the motorcycle gang without being a marked man. And he began the recovery program with Carringer and Lancaster Baptist helping him every step of the way. It was about an 18-month journey but today Jones is a new creation.
“It’s a total God story,” Carringer said. “Nothing but God. He had warrants on him and the stories he will tell you about the outlaws is unbelievable. He’s been shot and stabbed. His nickname was the Bogeyman. He went in to take care of business if you know what it means.”
But after getting clean from drugs and free from the motorcycle gang, a new creation began emerging. He was reading his Bible and goes to church every Sunday. He’s also in a discipleship class where he participates via Zoom every week. Nothing is the same for him. It’s all so much better.
Jones said he walked into a truck stop restaurant and went to the counter. The waitress said, “Can I ask you a question? You have stood here and smiled the whole time you’ve been in here.”
Jones told her: “Seven months ago I was buying $700 of meth a day and now I’m getting baptized Sunday!”
“I bet your mom prayed,” said the waitress.
Sure enough, she did. His mother comes to Lancaster Baptist too and he expects two rows of friends to be watching Sunday morning when he gets baptized.
Jones, 42, said he has wasted some time but plans on making up for it with a testimony that will make the hair on the back of your neck go stiff.
“God is using him like crazy,” said Carringer, who keeps in close contact with his friend. “God is always putting someone in his path.”
Jones said he was at a truck stop recently in Maryland when a young black man saw his 1 percenter tattoo on his hand and asked him about it. “I told him my story and how I fell from grace and got back into grace,” Jones said. “He told me that his parents were both Christians, but he never had anything to believe in. He said, ‘Would you pray for God to touch my heart?’’’
It gets better. Jones has restored his relationship with his children and his mother, who often went months without knowing if he was dead or alive. He was a member of the outlaw motorcycle club for 22 years. He said the older you get, the more you start to realize it’s time to get out. Jones says he’s spent about eight years in jail. Drugs have been a constant battle for him over the years.
“I’ve been clean five months on September 6,” he said. “I’m still in the baby steps part of it. The good Lord has blessed me. Every day I catch a glimpse of it. The world looks different to me. I go to places I’ve been before but now I’m seeing it clearly.”
He is cleared of all his warrants and drives a truck for a living. He’s on the road Monday to Friday but off on weekends. Sunday is reserved for church. His life has been redeemed.
When Carringer and Woods walked down that road, they had no idea how God was going to use them to bring Jesus into the life of an outlaw motorcycle gang member.
Carrington said he was listening to the spirit and following God’s lead while discipling Jones, who was also his “Who’s Your One?” from the Southern Baptist Convention’s evangelistic initiative.
Jones said he was making a delivery and went into a shipping office where he saw some Bibles and gospel tracts on a table that grabbed his attention. “The man in the office said, ‘Tell me your story.’ I did. I told him I was part of a gang, dealt with drugs and now I’m living for Jesus.”
The man in the office told him he’d come out of motorcycle gang as well – Hell’s Angels – some 30 years ago. The creed of the gangs meant that one of them wouldn’t come out of that office alive and they both knew it.
“What do you think we need to do?” the man asked him.
Jones answered, “We need to pray for those who don’t get out. We stood there and cried together. God works in mysterious ways.”
Even in the life of a former outlaw motorcycle rider.