Words that Strengthen - Joshua Van Roodt

Though my parents went to a church near our house, I was never really interested in going. Then one day, four years ago, my dad told me there was a concert at church, so I decided to check it out. What I found there was a really cool vibe with people my age in the front row, dancing and rejoicing. I joined in. When I heard the message of the lyrics — the truth of the Gospel — I gave my life to the Lord.

 

One week later, my friend decided he wanted to start skateboarding, so I did too. And I have been ever since. But I was always hesitant to go to a skatepark because of the culture I knew to be there. They are often pretty brutal places, filled with violence, swearing and smoking. There’s also usually an entrance fee. When I was starting out in the sport, I didn’t want to pay the fee only to have people realize I couldn’t really skate.

 

But I heard there was one skatepark that was different from the rest. Hearing the owner was a Christian, I wanted to check it out. Skating with Christians is one of the coolest things ever; I love the family I’ve found at the skatepark. The skating vibe here is much nicer than any other park. It’s great to be in an environment where, if someone isn’t landing a trick, we have Scripture to encourage them, to build each other up.

 

Skating has become such a big part of my life. I now work at that skatepark, I teach others the sport I love, and I’m now sponsored by a local skate shop. But most importantly, skateboarding has become a tool for me to share the Gospel with others.

 

I have Scripture written all over my boards. My latest board boasts the message, “Jesus is Lord,” as well as Philippians 4:13. The easiest way for me to share the Gospel with other skaters is by answering their questions when they ask me what these messages mean. This is my trap to talk about Jesus! I remember talking to one guy at a park who was very discouraged. He kept saying, “I can’t do this trick.” To which I pointed to the Philippians 4:13 verse on my board and responded, “Look here at this verse, it says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ There’s your evidence! You can do it!”

 

Jesus used words to encourage and strengthen others, and we can do the same. Ever since that day, this guy has been skating better and better, with more confidence than before.

 

A lot of people don’t want to enter into the sport of skateboarding because of the culture they associate with it. But if everyone was able to laugh, joke and encourage each other in this sort of family environment, I believe more people would enjoy the sport and progress in it. I believe the culture can be changed through the Gospel.

 

— Joshua Van Roodt, professional skateboarder in South Africa

 

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