Every Friday night in Vacaville, California, dozens of teens pile into a large indoor skatepark.They whiz across plywood platforms. They glide, jump, and fly. As the music booms and laughter trails behind boards, someone calls out to gather the skaters together. One by one, they hop off their skateboards and flock to the middle of the room. Then, together, they sit and listen. And among the ramps and rails, they worship God in the sanctuary of Harvest Church. Hearts awakened. Arms raised. Skateboards still.
In 2010, Frank Chavez began a ministry called the Embassy Vacaville in conjunction with his company, Embassador Skateboards. Both organizations were inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:20, which instructs believers to become “ambassadors” for Christ—a calling Frank felt was just as applicable to a skateboarder as it is to a pastor. The Embassy’s current director, Jacob Briseno, says of the ministry, “We are basically a nonprofit organization that preaches the Gospel through skateboarding. Our goal is to reach out to the skate community and change the culture to be Christ-centered.”
To those with little exposure to skateboarding culture, the most significant threats against these skaters may seem as simple as swearing and cigarettes. But the Embassy team members are concerned about the hearts and minds of their peers, and for good reason. “It’s a very independent and rebellious group,” says Jacob. “A lot of skateboarders have the attitude of ‘I’m going to make myself look good’ or ‘I’m going to skate here even if security doesn’t want me to.’” The Embassy also sees leading skateboarding brands encourage this defiant behavior by using satanic symbols, such as the pentagram, in their logos and brand materials. “I don’t believe skateboarders wear that stuff to worship Satan,” says Jacob. “They wear it because the image portrays this ‘I don’t care’ mentality.” As an avid skater and a devout believer, Jacob understands the subtle dangers that linger behind these trends, and he and the Embassy team want to expose those threats and bring them to light. “A lot of my guys have been raised up in that culture and realize that’s how the enemy works,” says Jacob. “We want to show the truth that this stuff matters.”
More Than a Hobby
As the Embassy members visit various skate parks and meet new people, they treat skateboarding as much more than a hobby. To them, it’s a tool. “Skateboarding is diverse, and it’s caused us to be very open to whoever is skateboarding,” Jacob explains. As a result, the Embassy has utilized unique talents as a means of sharing Christ’s story of salvation. “If we both have a skateboard, they’ll listen. So we don’t have to build a relationship before we can start speaking into their lives,” he says. “It destroys all barriers.”
Through the efforts of the Embassy’s team, change is happening, and the Gospel story is infiltrating local and even global skate communities. Beyond casual visits to skate parks, the ministry has organized numerous events, from skate competitions in Sacramento to mission trips in China. “We’ve seen God do great things here in Vacaville, but He hasn’t stopped there,” Jacob announces. “People from all over are telling us that they’ve either heard of us or have been to our events.”
The Embassy also organizes indoor skate nights every Friday, where local skateboarders can enjoy their sport and socialize. “We invite skaters to come skate with us, and then we interrupt the session mid-way to teach the word of God,” Jacob shares. “We have seen miracles and salvation come because of our skate nights.” When the Embassy began, Harvest Church hosted these skate nights in their very own sanctuary—filling it with sheets of plywood, makeshift ramps, and more. Today, they meet in the back of Harvest’s new building, and they hope to one day construct a roof for the space. “We want to give the skaters here a permanent home,” says Jacob.
Live for Jesus
Thanks to the Embassy’s dedication to serving Christ and the skateboarding community, countless young skaters across the globe have been saved. In fact, Jacob himself decided to devote his life to Christ as a result of the Embassy. “I was pretty much a ‘skate bum,’” he says. “Frank invited me to a skateboard demo in Del Mar, California. When I went, I had an encounter with Jesus. I saw the difference in how the team lived and knew I wanted to live my life for Jesus.”
As the Embassy team seeks Christ and their community, they have collectively committed themselves to this mission—to live their lives for Him, and Him alone. “I believe that God created skateboarding to bean outlet to worship Him, to experience Him,” Jacob shares. “One of our biggest prayers is that God doesn’t let us just be another bunch of skaters, but that we actually are in His will and are able to change the skate culture to exactly what He designed it to be.”