With their weather-worn leather jackets, untended beards and multifarious tattoos, the bikers rolled into the capital with the sun in their faces and Jesus Christ on their mind. Patches on the backs of their jackets revealed the start point of their journey or the nature of their mission: Nights of Heaven Kronoberg, Streetchurch Bikers, The Salvation Riders.
Thomas Gustafsson parked his Honda CB1300 by the square at Kungsträdgården after riding up from Linköping. He had just come from a blessing ceremony at Rålambshov park where bikers and ex-criminals praised Jesus in the breaks between musical acts. After the ceremony, they mounted their bikes and thundered along the waterfront on Norr Mälarstrand.
“It was a powerful feeling,” said Gustafsson.
It was the third time the ”Jesus Manifestation” was held in Stockholm. Last year 18,000 people participated in the event, but organizers were expecting at least 25,000 this time round.
The day began with a series of smaller events across the city before the disparate strands converged on Kungsträdgarden, which was filled to capacity by 3pm.
The main service began when the bells of St. Jacob’s church marked the hour. Devout Christians from all over the country rejected evil and professed their belief in Jesus Christ and the creator with a resounding “ja”. Children paddled in the fountain while queues for the surrounding restaurants and café were seemingly endless in the blazing Whitsun Eve sun.
Thomas Gustafsson had ridden to Stockholm with his wife on the pillion. The pair were joined on their journey by forty other bikes from Östergötland. Having been involved from the start, they have watched the event grow.
“The way we see it at our church, things are starting to happen. More and more people are finding salvation and we actually believe there’s a revival afoot. You can feel it in the air; it’s so easy to talk about the gospel,” he said.
“I don’t come from a Christian background. I was 43 when I found salvation and I really have a life before and after. This is fantastic.”
His message is emphasized by the sticker on his Honda: “I like bikes but Jesus is my life”.