Shifting Gears

Motocross chaplain Steve Hudson talks about his transition from church to chapel and
teaming up with FCA

Steve Hudson, center, talks with pro rider Ricky Carmichael, left, and FCA MX Board Chairman Mitch Barnes at the 2005 U.S. Open.

Steve “Chappy” Hudson has been committed to full-time ministry since he was 23. After attending seminary, he joined the ministry team of a church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Six years later, he felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit to step out of the church setting to reach the “unequipped.” And what better place than at Charlotte
Motor Speedway?

Hudson began to minister to the drivers and crew on the infield and within a year accepted a full-time position with Motor Racing Outreach as a chaplain within the world of motocross racing.

Ten years later and now under the banner of FCA’s Motocross Ministry, this former straight-laced
church staff member is sporting a more “modern” look. He has come to exemplify the Apostle Paul’s 1 Corinthians lesson of becoming “all things to all people” in order to save some (v. 9:22). Frayed jeans, an untucked shirt, flip flops and highlighted hair might not be the typical style of most sports chaplains, but for “Chappy,” the motocross pits and FCA, it is a perfect fit.

STV: Tell me about your transition from working at a church to now ministering at the racetrack. Did you have to change your way of thinking?
SH: No, I really didn’t. My transition into this community was easy. Basically it was all about building bridges with people—getting to know them and telling them about the love of God when they opened up the door.

I really wasn’t into motocross when I started out, which allowed me to treat the mechanics just like the superstars. I was just as interested in finding out how a mechanic could take parts off and put them back together as I was in the guys who were riding.

Steve Hudson in chapel.

STV: When ministering, what do you use to build the bridges you mentioned?
SH: Trust and friendship. Most riders think that anyone who comes from the outside wants something, and when I come in not wanting anything, helping them carry equipment or
visiting them in the hospital, they want to know what my deal is, so they’ll come to the chapel services. But basically I like to develop a relationship first and then find ways God wants to use me spiritually.

STV: Why do you think that kind of friendship evangelism is so important?
SH: The friendships bring trustthat can de-bunk certain ideas. Some think I’m out there to preach to them, and they’re waiting for stereotypical answers. But then I’ll answer their questions with questions and get them thinking about what they are asking and why.

STV: What are some of the fruits you’ve seen as a result of having chapel and developing friendships?
SH: I actually had one instance last year. One of our announcers’ dads died. The announcer had just started coming to the chapel services. When I called him, he said, “Steve, I feel so empty and lonely.” I was able to share that the only thing that willever fill him up is Jesus, and he was
really appreciative. And because of 10 years of playing golf with him and going to his house, a bridge was built to share Christ.

STV: What would you say is the difference between having chapel and going to church?
SH: Well, in Acts 2:42 it basically says here is the church and here is what you do. You get together and listen to the apostles’ teachings, and you break bread and have fellowship
and pray. And we do that. We don’t have a building, but I have realized that God’s church isn’t bricks and mortar, it’s the people He has created.

STV: Do you think that your interaction with the world of motocross has changed the
perception of Christianity for the people involved?
SH: Some people tell me that I’m the guy who keeps everybody in line, and I say, “No, I just tell them about the line.” It’s up to them to desire to know more about God. I don’t cram it down their throats. I don’t have a thick sermon. These people want simplicity, so I try to bring it to them that way. The chapel services aren’t designed to disciple people. That happens when I am alone with them in their trucks, buses, homes or on the golf course.

STV: So, how exactly are you able to reach out to the riders in a way that affects them?
SH: I just rely on God’s timing. It’s so nice to be able to just trust God. I don’t try to make things happen. I can’t. I’m not good at that. I just take advantage of every moment.

STV: How have you personally been encouraged through your experience as chaplain?
SH: At one point in the season, about halfway through, I was getting a bit concerned financially. There were a couple of riders that could write a check for me, but they weren’t doing anything. Then one guy I didn’t expect just handed me a check. It was an enormous amount, and I just broke down.

I had really been focusing on the guys who weren’t supporting me like they could, and then the
money came from somewhere else. It was just another way for God to say that He wanted me out here, and that He will provide. I don’t need to worry about where the money is coming from.

STV: Since you came into this situation with no previous motocross experience, what would you say to those who might be facing the same circumstances and feel unqualified?
SH: They need to realize that their qualifications don’t come from their talents or abilities, from what or who they know. Their stamp of approval comes from God giving them a desire to do it. And He is the One who gives qualifications and gifts.

STV: So, how do you think coming on staff with FCA will help your ministry within motocross and vice versa?

SH: I believe both situations are going to add credibility to each other. FCA is going to expand this ministry exponentially and allow me more follow-up after I leave a track or city. And since FCA wants more presence in the extreme sports arena, they are now taking on something that is already proven and in place.

STV: So, what is one of the greatest lessons you have learned while being in the ministry?
SH: When I was with the church, I begged my pastor to show me how to be a minister. He said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” And he really meant it. He told me I was a minister because God put it in me. I know my job now is to throw the seeds out. It isn’t my job to draw people to Christ. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. But I can let my light shine in such a way that
others want to come toward it.

Get to Know Steve Hudson

Steve Hudson (left) with MX rider Justin Buckelew.

Steve Hudson’s transformation from conservative to “edgy” has opened numerous doors for ministry in the world of motocross. Mitch Barnes, Board Chairman and co-founder of the FCA MX
Ministry, has witnessed this transformation firsthand.

“When he started, his hair wasn’t died white on the ends, but his new look has made him very
accessible and his ministry non-threatening,” said Barnes. “I have people tell me that Steve is
the reason they are open to receiving Christ. He pays attention to the congregation he is calling on and when he changed his physical appearance in order to minister in this market, he made people feel comfortable.

“He just pays attention to the trends, and that allows him to have credibility in MX.” This credibility has provided Hudson with opportunities to counsel many of the riders and their spouses. One such couple is Justin Buckelew (#44 with the Moto XXX Honda team and volunteer instructor for FCA MX Camps) and his wife, Danielle.

“Steve encourages me with my husband,” said Danielle. “I always come to him with questions that Justin and I talk about. It is nice, because you can talk with Steve anytime about your faith or about the Bible. You can tell he truly cares about you. He cheers you up and gives you a different outlook on life.”

Her husband agrees. “We would be missing out if Steve wasn’t here,” said Buckelew. “He is our church, and he reminds me of the impact that I have on other people—that I need to try and
share my faith with others. He also encourages me to become better at my sport and have fun
at it. And something people don’t realize is that Steve isn’t just for the riders, but also team
managers, mechanics, wives, brothers—the whole community.”

One such manager is Bob Moore, 1994 125cc MX World Champion and current VP of Motorsports for the Wasserman Media Group. Moore befriended Hudson years ago, and he maintains that their friendship is what keeps him active in MX.

“If it wasn’t for Steve, I wouldn’t be out there,” said Moore. “I have a family, and my kids are

getting to the age where we are playing together. I miss that. But Steve has become like my brother, someone I can rely on. He is very supportive and important to me. He isn’t pushy, he’s a friend first. That is one of the unique things about Steve and why so many people take him in.”