"Where there was death, You brought life, Lord. Where there was fear, You brought courage.
When I was afraid, You were with me..." -God With Us, by Jesus Culture
I asked my good friend, Josh Knipple, to write a guest blog for us. Josh made our original 1L skate decks seen in this video Nicole made years ago. Later he helped make close to 40 1L decks that we have been able to give away all around the world.
He also brought a team from Pennsylvania & partnered with us for #OneLoveSkate at Hope Chapel Maui with Francis Chan in June 2013.
We trust that as you read this blog from Josh Knipple, you will be encouraged to #LiveOneLove with a fresh perspective and imagine creative ways to be a positive presence in your community.
Enjoy. -Joshua Marburger
If you had told me all the different ways God was going to do ten years ago I wouldn't have believed you and that you were making it all up. If you had told me I would get to travel the entire country, or have the only indoor skatepark within two hours given to us by an athiest I would have laughed at you. If you had said that we would be able to reach thousands with the name of Christ, no way. But that is how God works and does things and for some reason he chose to use my life as part of it. John 10:10 says, "I have come that you might have life, life to the full."
So I want to share with you the history of Life Over Death skatepark and Crucified Ministries, and when I say the history of it I actually mean His story because that is what it is. It was the summer of 2006, I had just finished at Liberty University with a degree in youth ministry. I had an internship at a local church, I was engaged and I thought everything in my life was falling into place according to the American dream. Then within a 2 week span, everything collapsed. My fiancee and I decided it was not the right decision for us to be making and the church decided to hire someone else one day after telling me the job was mine. So I went through a time of complete questioning everything. "God, Why?" Also during that time I went back to working at the job i had always known at the local snowboard shop. Here I am questioning everything and seeing kids come into the shop day after day. Not to long after that God started working on my heart saying. "this is exactly why you didn't get that job at the church. I didn't create you for safe ministry inside church walls, I created you for outreach. These kids right in front of you who aren't in church anywhere."
I had no clue what that would look like but I knew God was calling. I tried every excuse I could come up with, "God, I am not a good speaker, God, I can't skate, God, you must have the wrong person." He just kept saying, "Josh, I thought you said you were willing." So that following Tuesday I started going to the local outdoor park with hot dogs, water, and a few others to help me. I had no clue what was in store. To be honest, the first few weeks were rough, most the guys there tried to get us kicked out. Yet God kept saying to press on. In that first summer we went from 5 kids to over 20 kids. Skateparks around here shutdown in August, so we started praying or a place. Within 2 weeks a friend of mine called saying, "my dad heard you were getting kids off the streets and he has a warehouse that you can use if you want." I was blown away, God was coming through in ways I couldn't have imagined but the building is only the tip of the iceberg. As we went to see the building we pulled into the lot of a casket warehouse company, kinda creepy. We went around the back of the building to find out the warehouse we would be using was the second story and he would be selling coffins on the first floor. Oh, and by the way he went on to tell us he is an atheist. All I could do was laugh at God's sense of humor in that moment. So as we talked we decided we wanted to call the park "Life Over Death." The idea was that we would be sharing life through Christ on the second story as he would be selling death on the first.
Out of me seeing my dreams and plans die, God showed me what abundant life could look like. I was broken going back to my old job, and God was saying this is only the beginning. I was at a hopeless spot in my life crying out "Why" and God was saying Trust Me and you will bring hope to others.
Every Tuesday night for over ten years the skatepark grew and multiplied, hot dogs got consumed, ramps got built as funding came in, and Christ was shared. Out of the skatepark, other ministries have been started, a traveling skate team was formed that went all over the country ministering to thousands along the way. Also out of the skatepark a church was born transforming the city of Johnstown and reaching the homeless and outcasts. Out of death, came life. Life Over Death's History is truly HIS STORY.
P.S. Those same guys who originally tried to kill the ministry at the start are now all believers leading a local snowboard ministry themselves.
Connect with us on oneloveskate.org if you think 1L #LifeGroups would be a blessing in your community. #LiveOneLove #OneLoveSkate