From Steamboat to Skid Row, Sk8 Church members minister on the West Coast | SteamboatToday.com

From Steamboat to Skid Row, Sk8 Church members minister on the West Coast

"Serving and skating" was the focus of a recent Sk8 Church missions trip to the West Coast.

The team of 12 students and leaders from Steamboat Springs traveled over 1,000 miles in a church van to minister to the homeless on Los Angeles' Skid Row and to serve ex-convicts in the San Diego area who were trying to adjust to life outside of prison after serving hard time.

A large part of the trip involved work at the Training Center, a faith-based prison ministry founded by skateboarding legend Dennis Martinez, who is a friend of Sk8 Church founder Buck Chavarria, The center offers housing, counseling services, recovery support and skills training to men transitioning from prison to life back in society.

While there, the missions team from Sk8 Church served meals at the center, hosted a church service and also had the opportunity to take a few of the men for a day of surf lessons.

"It was really cool to take two guys, who never had a day at the beach, who were covered in jail tattoos, and put them on a surfboard and watch them act like little kids again," Chavarria said.

The Sk8 Church crew also helped work on a house that one of the "lifers" was going to move into after spending 25-plus years in prison.

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"It was an eye-opening experience for me — to meet the ex-cons and give food and water to the homeless — to see the stuff that's happening here in the states," said Josiah Crain, a Colorado Mountain College graduate who was experiencing missions for the first time. "It was a revelation to me of how good we have it in Steamboat, how blessed I am and the hold drugs can have on some people."

The group also toured Home Boy Ministries in San Diego and served lunch at several neighborhood skate parks.

"It was a great opportunity to serve the Lord and go to California," said Jared Bennett, a CMC student and Sk8 Church member. "I serve here every Thursday, and it was an opportunity to serve others beyond Steamboat."

When asked what their ministry work involved, Crain said it was all about just loving people.

"We gave them food, we gave them water and we asked them if there was anything we could pray with them about," Crain explained.

Bennett described one divine encounter the team had with a young man who was living on the streets.

"This homeless guy came up to us with his dog, and he ended up telling us he was about to commit suicide," Bennett said. "And we ended up doing a full-on intervention."

Dave Schram, one of the Sk8 Church leaders who went on the mission trip, said he enjoyed the time the group spent together, which involved long days that began at 7 a.m. and ended at midnight.

"You get to know the team at a different level," Schram said. "You're breaking down barriers and building relationships with your crew. It's about blessing people — just loving them."

The trip also included some serious skateboarding opportunities for the Steamboat group including a chance to skate at pro skateboarder Bucky Lasek's backyard pool alongside other skateboarding legends and trips to other high-profile skate parks in the San Diego and L.A. areas.

"It's cool to see our team making those connections," Chavarria said. "You surf, you skate, you serve your butt off. Skating and serving is such a cool way to see life's challenges and get a different perspective of what goes on in the world."

This is the fifth year SK8 Church has sponsored a California missions trip. The local nonprofit also hosts five mission trips for middle school and high school students.

The trips are all made possible through fundraising support that allows local kids to participate who wouldn't typically be able afford the experience. Money is raised through garage sales, the annual Sk8 Church poker run and private donations.

For more information on Sk8 Church, visit christforlifeskatechurch.com.

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman