This past summer, Pacific Union College student Robert Abdul-Karim collaborated with Pastor Marshal George of Alameda Seventh-day Adventist Church to take a unconventional approach to evangelism for Abdul-Karim’s theology degree. Together, the two decided that their ministry would be used as a way to connect with the community on a level deeper than simply distributing pamphlets or literature. While working on a small-group ministry on the Bay Area island of Alameda, the two witnessed young children skateboarding down the former naval base with no particular direction or purpose. So the two worked together to plan a ministry in the form of a skate clinic with an all-too appropriate name: Alameda Extreme.
“We wanted to give the kids something to do,” says Abdul-Karim. “That’s where the idea of having a skate clinic came up – to help them out, to encourage them.” Taking this approach, the PUC students who volunteered to join Alameda Extreme went to the skate park simply to interact with the young skaters.
One foggy morning in Angwin, Abdul-Karim loaded up a school van with six yawning underclassmen, all a little uncertain about what the day would bring.
Once they arrived on base, the students left their nerves behind and began socializing with the other skaters. With a few members of the Alameda church there to support them, Abdul-Karim and the students distributed bags of chips and water bottles to the athletes. Then the boys hopped on their skateboards and joined in on the fun. Skaters, bikers, and roller bladers alike came over to see what Alameda Extreme was all about.
While no sensational event occurred this time, freshman Alameda X-er Royce Jones says he believes the simple act of being around the kids at the skate park is the most effective tool in witnessing for Christ in a place like Alameda’s naval base. “You could talk with one person for an entire week without mentioning God or Jesus or anything spiritual,” he says. “But if you just treat them like a good friend by showing them love and compassion, by the end of the week I guarantee you that they will give you an opportunity to introduce your faith.”
Abdul-Karim plans on making a trip to Alameda’s skate park a quarterly event. While the date is still up in the air, winter quarter’s trip will include a basketball camp after the skate clinic. When Jones was told about the new project, the smile disappeared from his face. “I’m honestly the worst basketball player,” he says, slightly embarrassed. “But I’ve learned that any opportunity that comes to share what you love, you go for it because God’s gonna work it out. It’ll work out.”
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