Becoming A Chaplain: Jeff Renken

By NAMB Staff

Most people can hear chaplain Jeff Renken make his way to serve others. After all, there’s a lot of interest in the American V-Twin bike that he rides to places where he conducts counseling, preaches, baptizes and makes himself available in any capacity to serve in the community.

“Anytime. Anywhere. This work is my missionary chaplaincy calling,” Jeff says.

As a biker chaplain, Jeff speaks to in a familiar language that welcomes and builds trusted, meaningful conversations about life, family, work and faith.

“God has placed me amongst my people. In the biker community, there are a lot of veterans and like-minded men that I minister to. With many similar experiences in life, it is easy to relate to them and help cultivate friendships that have lasted for many years.”

Born into a Christian family, Jeff grew up in Naperville, Illinois, .” At 6 years old, Jeff accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.

Upon completing high school, Jeff entered the U.S. Navy. After serving four years, he received an honorable discharge. Following a small service break in military service, Jeff enlisted into the U.S. Army.

While in the army, Jeff met his wife, Rose, while serving in Arkansas at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) as a 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment member. “Rose and I recently celebrated 32 years of marriage, and we have two adult daughters, Ashlee and Lacey, who married loving husbands. We have five grandchildren—four grandsons and a granddaughter.”

Jeff attended Liberty University after he retired from military service. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Christian Counseling and Religious Studies.

How did he become an SBC Chaplain?

When Jeff received the calling from the Lord, he had already been riding a motorcycle. “As my passion for riding grew, I found confirmation from the Lord when I discovered I could do ministry within the biker community.”

After several years of ministering within the biker community, God called Jeff to become a chaplain. Jeff explained, “God revealed to me that I was to become a commissioned chaplain. I was led to the North American Mission Board (NAMB) being of Southern Baptist denomination, and, as God opened doors, I was recommended, boarded and commissioned as a Community Services (Biker) Chaplain.”

Jeff met the required guidelines for endorsement. Additionally, he now serves as an SBC chaplain ambassador in North Carolina and South Carolina.

SBC chaplain ambassadors serve as a chaplain to chaplains. “I often communicate through different means with chaplains of all endorsements assigned to the region I serve. I keep them updated with what is happening within NAMB and often discuss real-world issues with them.”

Ambassadors also provide spiritual support by receiving ministry updates and family news from chaplains to pray daily for them. Jeff encourages them through the Scriptures and walks alongside “each of my brothers and sisters in spirit, for chaplains are uniquely called spiritual warriors serving the kingdom.”

Jeff says God has given him the discipline to be the man he is today. “My background as an airborne soldier and biker chaplain has given me an undying drive to serve the Kingdom with every ounce of energy I have. This discipline has also given me little to no fear in carrying out the mission, no matter where this ride takes me—in places where I minister—places others simply refuse to go.”

Published April 25, 2023