Hey guys! For those of you haven’t heard, back in July, I ventured back on the road for a few months for Open Door Part 2! While I was traveling around, I was visiting my friend Brooks Driver in Florida and found myself at The House of Ride Nature. What I didn’t expect was how only 2 months later, I would be moving to Florida to work for this action sports non-profit called: Ride Nature!
I’ve been living down here in Florida for the past 3 months and it has been crazy eventful! Here is a little rundown of a lot of the ministry that’s been going on since I’ve joined staff as the Director of Action Sports Outreach.
We have been leading “Skate Church” in 3 different parks in SW Florida each week. During Skate Church, we skate with the locals, take a 15-minute break to have pizza, and share a bible study with the skaters. We’ve seen so much growth in the past few weeks with skaters not only attending but actually connecting with the messages week after week.
My heart with “Skate Church” has been to make genuine connections with as many skaters in the parks as possible. This is done by engaging with them not only in Bible studies, but in simply spending time with them in the parks. Challenging them with tricks to try or by taking an interestin who they are, outside of skating.
It’s been encouraging hearing chatter after “Skate Church” of skaters connecting with the message. From “Little David” asking questions that have been on his mind for years and saying, “I feel like tonight’s message was JUST for me”. To receiving phone calls from the most unlikely of skater, telling me “You need to know…what you’re doing is making a difference. These guys are hanging out in the parking lot long after “Skate Church” and they’re still talking about the message. Guys who normally want nothing to do with God or church are actually intrigued by what you’re talking about.” Hearing these words over the phone, in the middle of the night, was one of those moments that brought so much encouragement to my heart and reminded me yet again: This is where I need to be.
TAMPA AM 2019
One memorable event we were able to be a part of was the Annual Tampa Am Conest at the Skatepark of Tampa (or SPOT). This is the biggest Amateur Skateboard contest in the world, and we were able to set up a booth and be the ONE Christian presence in this typical hostile environment! We were able to make genuine connections with both skaters and staff members from the park, praying for a few individuals including some Am Skaters who got hurt in the contest!
Every night, our skaters would stay after to help clean up after all contests and parties wrapped up. This turned out to be a huge blessing to the staff and even opened the doors for us to speak life and pray for the owners/staff of SPOT. We are currently planning to go BACK in February for the Annual Tampa Pro Contest to continue serving the Park and being a light in the greater Skate World.
THE HOUSE OF RIDE NATURE
ASIDE FROM LEADING SKATE OUTREACH, WE’VE BEEN MINISTERING OUT OF OUR COFFEE/SKATE/SURF SHOP DAILY BY HAVING COMMUNITY EVENTS, COOKOUTS, AND OUR WEEKLY “HOMIES” BREAKFAST! EVERY THURSDAY WE INVITE ALL THE HOMELESS IN FORT MYERS INTO OUR HOME TO HAVE BREAKFAST AND A BIBLE STUDY. PANERA AND DUNKIN DONUTS DONATE FOOD EACH WEEK TO PROVIDE BREAKFAST FOR UP TO 30 HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS EACH WEEK!
Everyday, we never know who is going to walk through the doors of our shop. Our goal is to make every person feel like family when they are here and speak life/truth into them. They may come in for coffee or a skateboard, but they will always leave this place hearing about Jesus.
Brad was homeless a few months ago. He was using drugs and was overwhelmed with the pressures of life when he stumbled about our shop “by accident”. As he walked in, he met Danielle and said, “I need prayer”. Danielle quickly began praying for this stranger, asking God to come into his life and make Himself known to Brad. Instantly, Brad felt a change inside of him…
Fast forward to now: Brad is a completely changed man! When I first met him, he was in the hospital and I was getting to know his story, including the day a week earlier when he found the House of Ride Nature.
We may have been strangers and he may have been some random dude who came in off the street but, Jesus has called us all to welcome the strangers and visit the sick (Matt 25:44-45) . In doing so, Brad will know God’s love and that he is family already to us.
Since that day he came into the shop: Brad says he hasn’t had even a hint inside of him that wants to go back to using drugs. He speaks with so much hope and so much joy to all of us here at Ride Nature every day! He is an inspiring individual to say the least!
Brad had probation fines which were about to send him to spend time in jail but our team quickly pulled together to pay off all of his fines to keep him from prison!
Now: Brad is a free man, working an amazing job which he loves and has got his own place to live in! He is a changed man, a self-less giver to anyone in need, and a man of fire for Jesus. He’s just one of many stories of daily interactions we have here in our shop each week 🙂
Recently, myself, Danielle (fellow RN staff), and Nick (one of our locals from Skate Church) went on a pioneering mission trip to Israel! Our time out there was divided between visiting skateparks to do local outreach, visiting historical holy sites, and doing local evangelism. These kids in the village were super hyped on skating with us and we were able to bless them with all new boards!
One of our main goals was to find local skaters to partner with for future ministry within Israel. Our very first day in Tel Aviv, we went to a local skatepark and within 5 MINUTES: God provided the most divine encounter with our new Jewish friend Itamar. Itamar runs an outreach center across from the skatepark which helps provide skateboard rentals and lessons for underprivileged kids in the area. He wasn’t even supposed to be at the park that day, but he just HAPPENED to be there! That’s God’s timing for sure!
We were able to share our heart and vision with him and were able to bless his outreach with new complete skateboards (nearly 3 times more expensive than in America!), shoes (which are hard to come by for the kids), and shirts. Our host, Larry, was also able to provide Itamar with a New Testament Bible in Hebrew for him as well! What’s so cool is how, every time we met skaters in the parks, they were so receptive to hearing about Jesus (not a typically acceptable topic of conversation in a heavily traditional Jewish country)! There’s is so much potential for skate ministry in Israel without a doubt. So much to where: WE ARE GOING BACK IN AUGUST 2020!
Nick has been one of our recurring skaters at skate church for a little over 2 years, but the message had never fully stuck until recently.
I met Nick when I visited Fort Myers in July this year. Immediately, I could tell there was something special with this guy…that there was a deeper bond that Jesus wanted to form between us. When I began leading Skate Church in September, Nick was there every night. One night in particular, I remember sharing my testimony with the crew, talking openly about my battles with depression and suicide. I shared this with the groups so they can see how real and normal I was; that it is perfectly okay to talk about our struggles with one another, and show I’m human just like them, and if they ever feel too much: they’re never alone.
It was after this particular Bible study where Nick opened up to me about his own struggles. He said he had finally gotten to the place where he saw the only solution to his problems was to surrender things over to God! After 2 years of leaders pouring into him and loving on him, Nick gave his heart to Jesus. But the story doesn’t stop there…
Not long after (and actually2 weeks before the Israel trip), Nick reached out to me and said he felt like he was supposed to join us on our Israel trip. God broke down any obstacle that stood in the way! Nick managed to get a passport in ONE DAY! He stepped out in faith and attempted to fundraise for the first time and God provided for his whole trip to be covered! And it all culminated in Nick making it to Israel AND: getting baptized in the Sea of Galilee!
This is what it’s all about! Every day God reminds me: This is where I need to be and every day, we are seeing fruit. God is so good! Thank you for enabling me to do what I’m called to do in Southwest Florida and worldwide!
- Please continue to pray for the skaters in all of our skate churches to be open to and receive the Gospel.
- For open doors to continue being a light in the professional skate industry Upcoming mission trips to Colombia, India, Israel, AND potentially Europe.
- For continued provision to keep me on the mission field here in Florida
This journey has been incredible and I’m only 3 months in! At the moment, I’m committed to being a full-time missionary for Ride Nature for the next 2 years. As a full-time missionary, I never know where my next dollar comes from and my ministry is only possible with the help of a support team of donors. If YOU would like to sow into my ministry and keep me on the ground out here, let me know and I would love to have your support!
And finally! Here is a visual for you of what ministry looks like down here in Fort Myers through our home base. For more information on Ride Nature and to get involved with our upcoming trips, please check out:
Thank you guys for being a part of this journey! God bless!