“I did rotten things [because] I wanted to be noticed, to be loved,” says former Hell’s Angels biker
Raised by alcoholic parents near San Francisco Bay, Kenny Piefer recalls being set on a bad path as a child due to his "messed up" neighborhood.
Early on, he realized he "had no chance" unless he became the biggest and baddest kid in the neighborhood.
Busted at age eight for vandalism, Kenny spent six months in juvenile hall with kids twice his age.
It forced him to be tough on the outside, but, he says; "deep down, I was hurting".
"I spent my whole life searching for love. I'd hang out with the bad kids, because I thought they were going to love me and I didn't like square people."
He also joined the Sewer Rats, a 30-strong youth gang who would rob anything for money or alcohol.
Since a small boy, he looked up to a Hell's Angels member who lived around the corner. Ironically, through the Big Brothers mentoring program, they were paired up with a Hell's Angels member and Kenny began hanging around the club in San Francisco to win their favor. Ultimately he joined the club's Oakland chapter, still hoping to become somebody and be loved.
"But I didn't get the love that I wanted to get. We are supposed to love each other 100%, take care of each other, but it wasn't like that at all," he says.
As a club member, he admits, "I did rotten things. I wanted to be noticed, to be loved. When we wanted to 'take care' of a person' (even a friend), I didn't care what I did to them. I wanted to be Johnny on the spot; I wanted to be king."
However, Kenny says that his girlfriend and hospital visits to their three pound premature baby reduced the hardness in his heart.
One day at home, his girlfriend asked, "You want to go to church?"
"What? Are you crazy? You are with god [now]," Kenny responded, referring to himself.
It was the first time he had thought about the Creator God, but deep down he still felt unloved, so they went.
At church he was shocked to be warmly welcomed by two gangster friends from his youth and a policeman who had once arrested him.
After a few weeks at church, Kenny says that he and his girlfriend "began feeling some peace", and as he felt tired of the Hell's Angels, he abruptly left the club.
Two days later, though, his girlfriend and baby moved out to her grandmother's place. Feeling totally abandoned, he attempted to kill them both by driving his car through the house but his plan failed.
Now without a club or girlfriend to bail him out of jail, Kenny was released into a drug program. Desperate to have his daughter back, he took note of one lady's advice.
"She said, put your girlfriend and daughter in the big hands of God through prayer. So, I knelt in my bedroom and I let God have them."
In time, Kenny's girlfriend moved back in with him, but when she left him again he knew only Jesus could help him.
"I was really angry at her, so I got down my knees in my little flat and I screamed; 'If you're real Jesus, come into my life! I can't take it no more.'"
Although he felt no "warm feelings" at the time, Kenny remembers his life did change, but not before an ambiguous threat to her brother motivated his girlfriend to report Kenny's supposed 'murderous' intentions.
With a $500,000 terrorism warrant on his head, he fled alone to Vegas under an assumed identity and joined a biker's church a friend had recommended. "Jesus was corralling me," he says. "I had nowhere else to go."
A beautiful woman at this church named Jennifer, and future wife, motivated Kenny to attend a Bible study led by a wise older woman, who he says, "loved me when I was unloveable".
Today, Kenny says, "This big bad biker ain't so big and bad. I'll tell you, man, I searched the whole world and the only thing that gave me love was the Lord Jesus Christ."
Eventually, the outstanding warrant put Kenny in jail for a month. God used this time for good, Kenny says, because he read all of the New Testament and encouraged dozens of cellmates to trust in Jesus. After paying his bail and his attorney, Kenny's charges was miraculously dropped.
Kenny now owns a motorcycle service shop in Henderson, Nevada, and he keeps his door open for anyone to walk in and talk about Jesus. At times, visitors cannot explain why they've walked in. Kenny tells them: "You need the Lord Jesus Christ."
"I know what love is today," he says. "Love is getting out in the trenches and picking someone up; doing it when it hurts, without selfish ambition or any kind of expectations.
"And when I look at someone I don't like, I pray, 'Lord show me how to love this person, because I can't do it.' I know that you cannot love without the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Don't go through the pain the rest of your life, man," he shares passionately. "All Jesus asks you is to get down on your knees and accept Him in."