DENHAM SPRINGS - Lester “Big Les” May, pastor of Higher Destiny Biker Church, hadn’t intended on being a minister.
But his mother, while pregnant with him, “told the Lord, ‘If you will show me and teach me how to raise him right, I’ll dedicate him to you,’ “ May said.
His mother’s Christian influence was so strong, he said, that his younger sister and brother are also “serving the Lord today.”
Born and raised in the country outside of Denham Springs, May spent his boyhood fishing with friends and hunting with his hound dogs. “We’d camp out in the swamp for days at a time,” he said.
He first gave his life to God, he said, at the age of 12 while attending Plainview Baptist Church. “I was baptized in the Tickfaw River.”
May graduated from Denham Springs High School in 1969, attended LSU for two semesters then served three years in the Army. He married Lynda in 1971, went to work at a local plastics plant and recently retired from the Exxon polyolefins plant.
The Mays have two daughters, Georgia O’Neal, born in 1972, and Lori Ranzino, born in 1974. Both are now married with their own children.
Somewhere along the way, he started riding motorcycles.
When Lester and Lynda May started having marital problems, he sold his motorcycle but it didn’t help much, he said. Finally, in April 1978, they went to a church service where people testified how God was working in their lives.
“It touched me tremendously - hearing about Jesus doing something today - not back in Bible days,” May said.
Later that night, “I knelt down on the kitchen floor and asked the Lord to forgive me and change my life. It was like a whole house was lifted off my shoulders. Everything was like brand new!
“One of the first things I did was open the refrigerator, pulled out a cold six pack of Budweiser and threw it in the trash. My wife came home from work and saw it and asked ‘What is this?’ “ he said with a laugh. “I haven’t had a drink since.”
For the next 30 years they attended Victory Bible Fellowship Church, now called Victory Harvest Church, where he said he was mentored by some of the older Christian men.
He and Lynda and the girls visited nursing homes where they sang, and he played his guitar and preached.
He bought another motorcycle in 1992, joined the Christian Motorcyclists Association and a year later was voted chapter president.
After 13 years of weekend evangelizing to bikers with CMA, he took some time off to work on his house.
“I first began to have dreams at night of the Lord telling me, ‘You are going to become a pastor,’ “ May said. “I never had one doubt the Lord was speaking to me. It was plain as day to me.”
He discussed it with his pastor, the Rev. Terry Workman, who “released me” to attend another church. The Mays attended Miracle Place Church in Baker, where Bishop Ricky Sinclair ordained Lester May into the ministry on April 8, 2008.
“Lester May is a tremendous, wonderful, precious man of God,” Sinclair said. “He is doing a great, great, great work. He is called by God to reach the biker community and that’s a rough crowd!”
While attending Miracle Place, May said, “the Lord began to tell me about having my own church.”
“In a dream, as real as like we were sitting at a table talking, he came to me and said ‘Denham Springs.’ I said ‘Denham Springs? They have more churches than convenience stores. Why another church in Denham Springs?’ “ May said with a chuckle. Then his voice got serious. “He said, ‘When the troubles come, the house will be full.’ That always stuck with me.”
May’s Christian Motorcyclists Association experience combined with a burden for bikers, he said. “We would be ministering to a group of people a lot of churches don’t know how to minister to and wouldn’t minister to.”
The Mays started meeting with a small group of biker friends in October 2009 in the Luke 10:27 facility on Florida Boulevard. Luke 10:27, a trans-denominational ministry founded by Methodist ministers Frank and Leslie Akin, now meets on Centerville Street in Denham Springs.
Then last summer, the 3,500-square-foot building Higher Destiny Biker Church now uses became vacant. A former church suddenly disbanded, May said, leaving everything behind including a piano, organ, pews, hymnals and a complete sound system. “It was a miracle!”
Higher Destiny Biker Church’s first service there was in late July and a dedication service was held Aug. 15. May said the church is open to anyone, not just for bikers.
“The Bible says Jesus died for the whole world,” May said. “How can we do anything less?”