In the mid-90s, there wasn’t a huge skateboard scene in my quaint Carolina town, so whenever I got my hands on a 411vm VHS tape or a copy of Thrasher Magazine, I utterly devoured them, hungry to feast on all the creative potential held within a skateboard. These tapes and magazines were where I first came across the effortless style of Ray Barbee. Lines on lines. Ray just flowed, making every trick look good and deceptively easy.
At some point, I became aware that, like me, Ray was a follower of Jesus. Learning this truth was incredibly encouraging to me. As much as I loved skating and music, even as a teenager, I knew all things must center on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In the skate industry, where an array of dark things are glorified, I can’t overstate how heartening it was to see skaters at the highest levels, like Ray and a handful of others, choosing the way of Christ. I’m forever grateful. But even still, what I knew of Ray was only what I could see from afar.
Flash forward several decades and my love for skateboarding has only increased as well as my love for Jesus. I feel truly grateful that in His kindness, the Lord has blended these passions of mine together and allowed me to serve on the Board of Directors at Ride Nature and participate as the co-host of the Pursuit Collective podcast. It was my connection and involvement with Ride Nature that would allow me the opportunity to both connect and skate alongside Ray in person.
We were honored to have Ray accept our invitation to come visit the Florida headquarters, hang with us, play music, skate around the city, take pictures, and encourage our community with his passion, creativity, and love for the Lord. Ray is not only a legend within the skate world but he is also a well-respected guitarist and musician with multiple albums on Spotify, has also been featured on NPR, and has soundtracked multiple surf and skate video parts. Over the weekend while he was here, we hosted a backyard jam session and BBQ where Ray extended the invitation for other local musicians to play alongside of him, providing the underscore for a mini-ramp jam, music to take in, and the opportunity for us to host a film premiere of the latest episode of the To the ENDS Film Series. It was a community of creatives coming together to enjoy their collective pursuits, with Ray serving as the conductor.
Ray is humble and gracious, quick to smile and share a laugh. He signed boards willingly, skated the park alongside everyone, and truly enjoyed playing in harmony with the other guitarists, bass players, and drummers. The simple sophistication of the Leica M6 film camera that remains strapped to his shoulder is a pure representation of his artistic eye & conviction, yet it is his genuine desire to use each of his passions; music, photography, and skateboarding, as a means of loving God and others that is most evident.
Even now, years later, his effortless style on a skateboard remains inspirational to me. I would be content to have even a sliver of that flow, but it’s his love for Christ and others, his Scripture-saturated mind, his character and humility that I’m most inspired by.
While he was here, we recorded a great conversation on life, photography, skating, art, and Christianity. It’s seriously amazing to hear the knowledge of the Word of God flow through his everyday conversations. We hope you’ll find it inspiring. We are so thankful for all of you who are passionately pursuing the Kingdom of God in every area of your life. Together we are the Pursuit Collective.
Make sure to check out the Pursuit Collective podcast to listen in on our conversation with Ray Barbee. Available everywhere.