Heaven on Wheels

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"When I went on dates with my other husbands, they'd tell me to put on my prettiest dress, and we'd end up at McDonald's," Peggy remembers. "Armand knows good food and the right kind of wine to drink with it. We went to an Italian restaurant once, and there were four forks on the table. I'm a farm girl, and I only use one fork, but Armand taught me which was which."

She and Armand eventually got married. Armand's daughter from a previous marriage moved in with them; Peggy was happy to have her and grateful that her son had a stable father figure. They were finally living a normal life.

A few years into the marriage, though, things started to fall apart. Peggy and Armand fell behind in their mortgage payments and almost lost their house. They'd already lost a motorcycle, and the stress of their financial situation was taking its toll. "We were fighting all the time," Peggy says.

Armand found an outlet for his stress. Once a month, he attended a HOG (Harley Owners' Group) meeting in Thornton, where he met Gary Davis, pastor of the newly formed Church in the Wind. The two men started going on rides together, and Armand began confiding in the pastor about his problems. Gary invited him to attend a service at Riverside Baptist Church and Armand accepted -- without telling Peggy.

"One Sunday, Armand asked me to go for a ride with him, and I said, 'Sure.' Then he told me that the ride starts at a church and that he'd been going there for a while," Peggy remembers. "I told him to go by himself: I wasn't going to set foot in a church. He kept asking me, so I finally said okay, but I had an attitude from the moment I sat down.

"I went with him a couple of times and then, in a sermon two months later, Rick Ferguson said that the Lord loves you no matter what you do. He said, 'Once you have Jesus, he won't walk away.' That's what hit home; I really needed that. I needed to know I was loved and that I could love someone with no strings attached.

"I didn't think God could love me after everything I'd done. Pastor Ferguson said that all you have to do is ask Him into your heart. As soon as I did, I felt as light as a feather. I turned to Armand and I had tears rolling down my face. I told him I'd go up to the altar with him. We were baptized together two months later."

Their marriage began to improve, and on their sixth anniversary, they renewed their vows, with Pastor Gary performing the ceremony. Church in the Wind soon filled their life. "We had something going on every night," Peggy says. "If it wasn't church, it was a run; we'd ride our bikes from one house to another. We'd eat dinner at one place, dessert at another and have Bible studies."

Even though Peggy was happier than she'd been in a long time, doubts were still eating away at her. Why had God taken her brother away? Was it because you have to lose something in order to gain something, as her mother-in-law had told her several years before? But then Diana, Gary Davis's wife, sat her down. "Diana told me that's not true," Peggy says. "She said that my brother's time was up and that God took him home."

Finally, Peggy found peace. With it came new resolve.

A few years ago, she was working for a Star Wars fan club, screening mail. One of her co-workers was a drug dealer who was always trying to get her to do coke. She'd been drug-free for a couple of years, but it was still tempting. A month after she'd become a Christian, Peggy was standing outside when the co-worker started pressuring her again, dangling a baggie of white powder in front of her. Suddenly, Peggy felt bold and fearless. "I took the bag and the little spoon and looked him straight in the face," she remembers. "I said, 'I don't need this: I have Jesus, and you need Him, too.' I turned the bag upside down, dumped it on the ground and walked back inside.

"It didn't hit me until I walked into the building. I was like, 'What did I do? He could have killed me!' But I never saw him again."

The force was with her.

Peggy's transformation, like so many others, makes Gary Davis proud.

The pastor, who also answers to "Rev" or "Preacher Gary," is a burly man who will sneak up behind you and steal food off your plate if you're not careful. "I used to be skinny," Gary chuckles, finishing off a plate of chili-smothered eggs at McCoy's, where he and his fellow bikers are regulars.

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Julie Jargon
Contact: Julie Jargon