The D.R. was rugged, adventurous, warm, and friendly and it quickly became my new home. My parents made close friends as they built homes, helped plant churches, shared the Gospel, and developed lasting relationships. Their lives were a ministry to numerous people, including their five year old son.
When we moved back to the States, even as a young child I couldn’t help but see the world differently. In the D.R. I gravitated to the dirt streets and built friendships with the kids that had next to nothing. With a lack of clean clothes, toys, and sometimes even food, what stood out far greater than the things they were lacking was their abundance of joy. Smiles existed because family, community, and unity was the foundation they were built on. The families and friends we became close to all had each other and that was more than enough for them. While I learned what true physical need looked like, I also witnessed true spiritual need. That year planted the seed of full-time missions into my heart which has rooted itself deeply. Spending a year in a third-world country creates more than just a humanitarian heart; this experience began a trajectory in my soul and a movement that I haven’t been able to shake since.
I believe God was shaping me much like he did my parents all those years before, to also become a vessel that would pour His love into a world desperate for hope.
The years went by and as I got older I got involved in what most kids do: team sports, youth groups, surfing, skating, girlfriends. I had an intensity about my life, and as I got older it grew and began to consume my identity. Surfing the biggest waves, bombing the steepest hills on a skateboard, hitting the hardest on the football field, drinking the most at a party, jumping off of the highest cliffs or bridges; you name it–not only did I want it, but it fueled me. This reckless abandonment sat in the driver seat of my life until the age of 30 where I was still recovering from multiple injuries. Broken shoulders, wrists–even dealing with frostbite on both of my feet at one point from jumping into an icy Colorado river when it was zero degrees. What seemed like harmless adventures at the time revealed itself as a “fig leaf” for the insecurities I had about wanting to prove myself. I had it all–a great job making six figures, a beautiful home in the mountains, endless travel at my fingertips; but I was lost and lonely. To say I was searching was an understatement and it was nobody’s fault but my own. I knew who God was but I chose to do my own thing and it nearly led me to death.
My soul was starving for affirmation that even the riskiest affair couldn’t fulfill. I came to the place where the only leap I hadn’t taken was faith.
It fascinates me to reflect on the path of God’s pursuit in my life. My heart hurt for over 20 years through the countless negative decisions I had made, but I still felt the voice of God crying out for something different. The Bible says that there are ways that seem right to a man, but in the end they lead to death, both physically and spiritually; but there is grace that dares to save even the wildest risk-takers and that grace is a gift offered up for free. I knew about this grace but I had never experienced it. The common thread I’ve witnessed throughout most of my life is that many might know about God, but few have a Biblical understanding or concept of His Sovereignty. As a result, they deny His power.
In January 2010 my life changed forever. My sister had told me about a church in Melbourne that had impacted her life several years prior. At that point, a large impact was exactly what I needed. I was listening to the pastor share the story of the prodigal son. In the story, this son walks away from his family, taking and squandering all of his inheritance on wild, lavish living. Eventually he gets to a point where he has depleted all he owns. Humbled and ashamed, he returns home with the hope that his father might allow him to potentially be a servant, at most. As he approaches his home, his father–who I learned had been waiting all along for him to return–sees him and runs to greet him. With a strong, unforeseen embrace, the prodigal son is not only welcomed home, but he is celebrated. This story painted an image in my mind with new and bright colors that has now been etched into my soul of what love really looks like. This son deserved nothing–he literally sought after the same adrenaline and worldly pleasures I had also pursued, and came back asking for a consequence, but what was he given instead? Love! With nothing to give, he was welcomed home. God made it clear to me that day in Melbourne that at the slightest response of a lifted head in His direction, the Lord runs towards us with a welcome home.
My life changed that day and I knew it was time to channel my intensity in a new direction. I started over. Faith, friends, marriage, finances, living, and learning. The Bible became my lifeline; I studied it, slept on it, meditated on it, and shared it. The Lord celebrated my return to Him by leading me to ministries that shared the same intensity I had and were using sports to reach the world. Ride Nature was just starting as a ministry and without a coincidence, I was just starting a new life as well. An immediate connection led us to becoming family. Understanding the impact that the gift of a surfboard or skateboard can have in a person’s life excited me, but partnered with the desire to go and make disciples through that fueled me.
Through multiple trips alongside the organization, several years of serving on their board of directors, and after years of prayer, planning, and fasting, my wife and I are stepping out in faith through an undeniable call on our lives to continue pioneering the organization and the mission to the ends of the earth. We’re currently living in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. We’re planting and building up a facility that will represent a headquarters for the work of the organization for all of Central and South America. Much like the story of the prodigal son, we are welcoming those who are lost home into La Casa De Ride Nature. Being here only for a short time now, we are already seeing lives being changed as we share a message of what it looks like to live under the influence of God–both radically and intentionally rather than under the influence of the world. The vision for this facility and headquarters will be to both serve this local community while also raising up leaders from all over Latin America to be discipled, trained, equipped, and then sent back home to do the same. This facility is a home that will be used to love, plant, build, and multiply.
The Spirit of God, the gospel, and the mission of the church is one that cannot be stopped. The body of Christ speaking, leading, and acting in love toward those who are spiritually poor and without hope is a movement that dates back thousands of years and has yet to be shut down. Jesus shared with the disciples in Matthew 16:18, “The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.”
We live, breathe, and exist with the sole purpose of bringing glory to our creator.
It is in this that I have found the greatest adventure I’ve experienced–far more gripping, thrilling, fulfilling, or exciting than what this world will ever be able to offer. This is the mission Christ has called each of us to, and we are counting it a blessing each and every day that we get to just sit back and enjoy the ride. From San Juan Del Sur, to the ends of the earth!