I was 12 years old when my parents asked if I wanted to be homeschooled. I had just gotten a dirtbike that summer–a 1987 Kawasaki KX80. The thought of getting to ride that bike while my friends were in school made it easy to say yes to staying home. As the weather started to change and the temperatures dropped, my parents bought my two younger sisters and I season passes to a small ski resort about an hour from our house–P.E. lived on, even in homeschooling. On Wednesday mornings we would get dropped off at the base of the resort; I would lap the small makeshift terrain park until I took too hard of a slam to keep riding or until lifts stopped running. That small ski resort in the middle of Ohio sparked a passion for snowboarding and was one of the best years of my life! Little did I know, those experiences were preparing me for the future.
If you’ve spent much time snowboarding or skiing, there’s no doubt you’ve heard stories of riding in Japan–bottomless champagne powder, untouched pillow lines, and all-time views. I’d be lying if I said these thoughts didn’t come to mind when I learned about the need for the Gospel in Japan. Finding a Christian in Japan is like searching for the infamous needle in the haystack.
The staggering statistic that the Christian population in Japan amounts to an estimated 0.4% was a driving inspiration for my wife and I to commit our lives to global missions.
There is a component at the heart of the action sports world like none that I have ever seen: community. The community birthed by action sports bridges the gap between age, gender, race, culture, and even international borders. As a surfer, skater, snowboarder, or wakeboarder, you can travel almost anywhere in the world and immediately build friendships. This was the very thing that inspired the vision for Ride Nature. Knowing that I would always pursue the joy offered from surfing, skating, or snowboarding, the goal for Ride Nature was to breed a deeper purpose within that pursuit. The hope of utilizing the passion I had for action sports paired with the love I had for the Lord led JP and I to a new-found friendship, along with many others around the world.
There are stories of missionaries in the 1800’s who were so committed to the advancement of the Gospel in the specific places they were called to that they would pack their belongings in a coffin, symbolizing an attitude and heart willing to die for the work they were investing in. The work we are leading wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for leaders like JP and his wife. They abandoned everything that was familiar to move to one of the hardest places I’ve visited. They left their families, learned a new language, and their kids were born in this foreign place; yet after 12 years, Japan has become their home and their new familiar. This is what it looks like to drop everything and follow. They stand on the forefront of the mission to reach Japan with the Good News of the Gospel and our hope found in Christ. Standing beside and behind them are many others equally devoted to this hope.
Not all are called to go, not all are sent, but all are called to support.
In 1997, Apple Computers ran a campaign titled Think Different with a voice over from the esteemed Steve Jobs. “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently–they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” I’ve probably read that quote one hundred times and it still gives me goosebumps. I believe it not only describes me, but the many others who I’m blessed to call friends and partners in the work of changing the world. JP is undoubtedly one of them.
The Pursuit Collective exists for this purpose: to inspire others to take a leap of faith, to encourage those who might not fit the mold, and applaud those who see things differently. As a collective, we are all working together to create a better world–and the world needs you. It is waiting. Our hope is that you’ll go after it! From wherever you might be reading this, to the ends of the earth.