My wife and I had gathered a group of friends and sold them on a vision that had kept me awake most nights–a vision that had yet to be put into practice but one that I had rehearsed countless times leading up to this trip. As we led surf and skate outreach and hosted events that week for the first time, it was as if all of the ideas that had been swirling in my brain were like fresh concrete spinning in a mixer about to be poured out for the first time. I was witnessing the foundation of something much bigger than I ever imagined being poured. Dreams and visions are at the root of great ideas, but only when they are established do they truly become foundational. As we watched this vision come to life it was as if we were pressing our hands into that freshly poured concrete, leaving a lasting memory that would stand the test of time.
In Luke 10:2 Jesus told His followers,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
The opportunities that we began to discover in those early years–not only in Nicaragua, but all around the world– were far greater than we had realized. We knew we needed more help, so in obedience to the Lord we began to pray. It wasn’t long before we were introduced to Hans Wagner. There haven't been many individuals who have grasped the vision for Ride Nature so quickly, but Hans was different. With a love for all things adventure that is unparalleled to most, we hit it off quickly. In those early years of ministry we traveled on multiple trips together and as new ideas and dreams continued to become realities, we were sinking our hands deeper into the cement. As if we really were messing with concrete, it was messy at times, but no one could deny there was something being built.
It’s crazy how memories can suddenly reemerge; with a familiar smell or the sight of something you thought you had long forgotten, images and flashbacks rush back to your mind. Like stumbling upon those old handprints on your sidewalk, this is the case for me each time I return to Nicaragua. As I sat in the back of the bus this past summer, looking forward to a team of 16 full-time leaders–all a part of Ride Nature–I couldn’t help but to rejoice thinking about how faithful the Lord had been, especially with answering the prayer of sending more workers. As we drove from Managua, I watched the sun slowly set below the horizon as a cool, yet humid breeze blew in through the window and onto my face, leaving my eyes heavy. The bus was packed, not only with our entire team from Florida, but with 32 checked bags, 16 carry ons, 10 surf bags, and numerous backpacks loaded up with surf and skate gear. I was excited for everyone to see in person what I had been talking about, specifically for the past year.
After a few hours, we made it and were greeted by nearly a dozen smiling faces and waving welcome signs. We were far from our homes but yet we were home. Hans and his family had been there in San Juan for over six months, but with all of the travel restrictions from the pandemic we had been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to join them and be a part of the launch of our first international mission base of Ride Nature. Stepping off of the bus a wave of emotions swept over me. It had been 11 years since that first trip. I had returned to San Juan multiple times since, but this time was special. I was standing in front of “La Casa De Ride Nature”–a permanent Ride Nature facility planted in the very city where it all began. It was hard to wrap my mind around. After exchanging hugs, we unloaded what seemed like 100 bags and sat together as Hans shared stories of all that had been happening. As I looked down at the floor–literally freshly poured concrete–I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how the very foundation that began being poured 11 years prior was now fully coming to fruition.
200,000,000+ people. Nearly two-thirds of the entire population of the United States. This is the estimated population of the action sports community globally; a mission field that our heart burns to reach. To reach a number of people this great is no doubt a daunting task and one that would be impossible without multiplying growth. Thankfully, this has been the model we’ve been pursuing since the beginning. The need that exists in the city of San Juan del Sur alone is massive. Now, multiply that by hundreds of thousands of other communities around the world and it quickly becomes evident how plentiful the harvest really is. Throughout the short week we spent in Nicaragua helping finish up final touches on the property and host several events alongside the Latin American leadership team, our vision was once again cemented: to divide and conquer, to multiply leadership, and to replicate ministry models in new communities globally.
With the property fully remodeled, furnished, and a team of leaders planted there on the ground, the doors are open and people are coming. La Casa De Ride Nature may be our second base, second headquarters, and second training hub, but in many ways for me it feels like my first home. Like growing up, moving away, and then returning home to visit, this space is truly grounding. I’m not sure if it's the country in and of itself or rather the unique place it has in my heart, but of all my travels, Nicaragua remains at the top of the list.
This facility is what we believe will be the first of many “House of Ride Nature” properties around the world; regional hubs that will act as centralized home bases to serve the countries around them. As we continue to go, to travel to new communities, to train new leaders, and to plant new seeds, we believe the foundation of what God is building is continuing to expand. The footprint is getting bigger and with it, we have no doubt that years down the road, we’ll once again look down and see the handprints that were pressed into fresh concrete and recount all that the Lord has done. “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36