What are you willing to do to spread the word about Jesus? If God asked you to do something hard and that would take over three years to complete would you be willing to see it through? These are a few of the question that I left the theater last Tuesday night asking myself after the premiere of Seek First.
Seek First is a skate video that was made by members of the simple church in Lexington known as “Skate Church.” I won’t go into all the details here mostly because the Lexington Herald Leader did a great job on sharing the vision for the video in last Saturday’s paper (read here). The short version is that God spoke to Josh Roberts several years ago and told Him to make a skate video that would share His love for the skate community. So Josh went home, bought a camera, and started filming his best tricks not really knowing all the details of how a skate film would come together. A year into it, he bought a new better camera and trashed a year’s worth of tricks and went out and re-filmed them all on the new camera. Along the way, others from skate church got involved. Gideon Maki and Jonathan Smith began filming parts for the film. Sam Mullins was baptized and jumped in over the last year. The result of three plus years of filming? A thirty-minute film that left me smiling, crying, and seriously challenged to consider what lengths I’m willing to go to share with others about the God who has and is changing me.
Beginning With The End In Mind. Consider this for a moment: When Josh first heard God speak to him about making this film in January of 2013, he didn’t own a camera. He didn’t know anyone who could edit a film. He didn’t even know Jonathan Wilson who would later move to Lexington, meet the guys, get involved with Skate Church, and play a big role in the film. Sam Mullins was not involved in skate church at all, but would be baptized and join the team. Not only did God provide other skaters who began to catch the vision and sense God’s call to participate in this project with Josh, he provided an incredible editor/producer for the film! Chris Smith, a recent graduate from UK who studied film volunteered his services to the project. On top of this, over the course of making this film, Jonathan, Gideon and Josh all were married. Not only has this project coincided with the all important first years of marriage for these men, but for Josh, this project continued through the birth and first year of his first son’s life (Katherine and Josh are expecting their second son this Fall). Not only have they sacrificed time, but if you watch the film all the way through the credits, you will also find out that all of the guys experienced some major physical pain shooting this film. Why would these guys and their wives give so much time, energy, money (it has been self funded) and endure so much physical pain to complete to such a project? Josh summed it up best at the premier. “The whole time we were shooting this film I had this night in mind. There were many times that I had to overcome serious fear to continue trying many of the tricks you saw in the video, but I did it because I kept thinking about this night and that I wanted you all to hear about Jesus and how He can change your life.”
A Bold Faith. Seek First’s message was very bold and challenging–more so than I expected. The film is not soft presentation of the Gospel. It was in your face, but in a very gentle and humble way. Perhaps the boldest message for me came from the fact that these men remained faithful to Christ and his call to make this film. Hebrews 12:1-3 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” More than anything, their perseverance, eternal perspective, and joy along the road of the last three years leading up to Tuesday spoke and continues to speak the loudest.
Humility. What you may not know about skate films is that it’s generally the rule of thumb that you save the best tricks and parts of the video for last. Josh, who had the vision passed on putting himself at the end and instead put his friend Jonathan in that spot. He even allowed Jonathan to sum up the message of the film. Because if you know anything about Josh or any of the guys in Seek First, you know that their skating and their lives are not about them. I am grateful to call these guys friends and to watch God use their talents and passions to exalt Christ. Honestly, it was overwhelming as the film started and the packed Kentucky Theater began shouting in anticipation for the start of the film. For the first fifteen minutes I just watched, smiled and cried tears of joy because I just sensed God’s pleasure in these men and their faithful obedience. I sensed His pleasure in all that was going on in that theater and in the Christ-like humility that was on display in these men–a humility that in skating, like most sports, is a rarity. It was never about bringing attention to them but clearly about using their influence and passion for skating to be a reflection of Christ and His love and mercy.
Just the Beginning. If you watch Seek First, you will see four guys laying down their lives so that friends family and anyone who is interested in skating can hear about their Savior. It was for the Joy of sharing the Good News that they and their wives endured, and saw this project through to the finish. Yet in many ways, their hope and prayer is that it’s only the beginning for Seek First. They will begin giving out free DVDs in the coming days at parks around the region with the hope of taking the film on tour to skateparks, homes, church, (anyplace interested) and share the film and their stories with anyone who will listen. For more information about hosting a viewing party or to just contact the guys visit www.seekfirstvideo.com.