By Josie Rabbitt
LAKE CHARLES, La. — About an hour east of Lake Charles, La., they saw him. John Barnard, creator of MiddleMan Skateboards ministry and his friend, Todd Paget, had just stopped for gas on their way home from picking up their new Send Relief trailer from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Alpharetta, Ga.
“I noticed a man fiddling with the front tire of his little Kawasaki motorcycle,” Barnard said. “We had seen him earlier on I-10 that day. It was cold, and he had been lying on his fuel tank as he rode to keep the wind at bay as much as possible.” The stranded motorcyclist, Steven, was a crane operator traveling from East Louisiana to Lake Charles to start a new job. He had six kids to support back home.
As Barnard and Paget approached him, they knew they had no tools with them to repair the bike.
“The beauty of that moment was understanding what God had planned all along,” said Barnard. “God’s power was working before I even picked up the trailer and encountered Steven. We had exactly what he needed to get an hour down the road.”
With the help of the Send Relief trailer, Barnard and Paget were able to give Steven—and his motorcycle—a lift. Some “junky, overpriced straps” Barnard had brought along helped secure Steven’s bike—a bike they hadn’t know they’d be escorting to Lake Charles. On the trio’s journey, Steven revealed a broken, in-need-of-a-Savior story that opened the door for the two to encourage and build a case for Christ in Steven’s life.
“God gave us an hour with Steven, hearing more of his story and being able to tell God’s,” Barnard said. “We encouraged him to find a church that could help him and where he could worship. We encouraged him to read the Bible daily, starting with John. We told him that Jesus is near, that He loves him and that He was asking Steven to trust and obey Him.
“We’ll continue to pray for Steven, that he responds to Jesus, finds real life and stability. We will continue to pray that he works hard to provide for his kids. We’re going to hang the photo of Steven inside the trailer to remind us of God’s kindness and our joy in sending relief every single chance we get.”
Barnard and his nine skateboarding, people-loving staff are committed to supporting the skateboard community by helping teenagers realize their identity, purpose and community in Christ. They know God will use MiddleMan Skateboards and their Send Relief trailer to reach skateboarders and non-skateboarders alike.
“It’s like our first encounter with the Send Relief trailer was a constant reminder of God working it out,” Barnard said. “If you’re obedient and available, He can use you to further His story, His name and His message.”
NAMB vice president of Send Relief, David Melber, describes Send Relief as an initiative intended for doing God’s work in helping anyone who needs relief find it.
“It is our goal at the North American Mission Board to encourage and equip people to help each other and to spread the gospel to everyone they encounter,” Melber said. “We’re delighted when we hear stories about our trailers helping others, planned or unplanned.”
Josie Rabbitt writes for the North American Mission Board.
Published January 6, 2017