Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord... - Acts 3:19
Brian Sumner is an Evangelist, Pastor, Speaker and Author. However, prior to those callings, Brian was a professional skateboarder…one of the best! He has skated alongside the likes of Bam Margera, Ed Templeton (Toy Machine), Jim Greco and Andrew Reynolds (Baker Skateboards) to name a few.
Brian was born and raised in Liverpool, England (yes, he has a killer Liverpudlian accent) until he moved to the United States at the age of 15 to further pursue his passion for skating. His hard work and effort paid off, and by the age of 19, his dream of becoming a pro skater become a reality. He’s skated for some of the biggest names and companies in the industry. His US debut was for the skate video titled The End. He’s appeared in many other skate videos, movies and music videos. Needless to say, his skating career was one filled with fame and popularity.
There are two words I think we often overlook as believers, and those two glorious words are, “But God…” I know I often plan things one way, only to realize that as scripture says in Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” God had different plans for Brian as we’ll see in a minute.
I hope that Brian’s story of redemption and restoration will encourage you to surrender your own life to Jesus Christ if you haven’t already done so. And if you have, then, be blessed!
So, how about we get started?
Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. But, before we get started, let’s get warmed up a bit with some RRQTITEDRMM Questions (rapid-random-questions-that-in-the-end-don’t-really-matter-much)…the name’s a work in progress, let’s just roll with it.
Okay, here we go:
1. Do you have a middle name?
2. Fish and Chips or Burger and Fries?
FISH AND CHIPS
3. First skateboard you ever owned?
REAL ONE...WAS A POWELL PERALTA - PAT BRENNAN
4. Favorite genre of music?
WORSHIP, BUT GROWING UP IT WAS THE MISFITS, RAMONES, DOO WOP & OLDIES
5. Favorite book besides the Bible?
DOCTRINE BY MARK DRISCOL
THE GOD ASK BY STEVE SHADRACH
6. In your opinion, is it okay to wear socks with flip-flops?
7. What is Scouse?
A MIX OF LEFT OVER FOODS FROM THE WEEK THAT WOULD BECOME A STEW FOR
FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH THE WEEKEND DURING THE WAR.
8. What is it about British accents that make everything sound better?
BRITISH PEOPLE DONT HAVE ACCENTS, THEY ARE JUST SPEAKING THE ENGLISH
LANGUAGE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.
9. Last one…ready? Messi or Beckham?
MESSI...BUT RONALDO OR GEORGE BEST OR ZIDANE
Well, glad we cleared that up! Let’s get started with the “meat and potatoes” or should I say the “fish and chips” (sorry Brian, a little fun pun) of the interview!
Brian, I know you’re a super busy dude, and I’m sure you’ve answered these or similar questions in other interviews already, but, the way God reaches each individual is so unique that it’s worth re-telling over and over, and yours is no exception, so, tell us…
What was it about skating that got you hooked?
Everything! It came into my life at a time where I was getting into a lot of fights. My friends had started joining gangs, drop acid, do trips, get high, and I didn't see anything in that. So seeing skating in various videos and that it was something you could learn, coupled with the massive influence America had on me as a teenager with shows like the Simpsons, WWF, Married With Children and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles taking over the television in England, everything American just became appealing.
How did your folks feel about your decision to come to the United States to further pursue your skating career?
Because I had traveled throughout England with my older friends since I was 13 years old, by the time I was 15, I was much more mature. They saw the direction skating was headed and how Geoff Rowley (also a pro skater and from my home town) was a few steps ahead of me, it made a lot of sense.
You turned pro at age 19, correct?
I know when I was 19, even though I was working full time and going to college, peer pressure was still all around me...unfortunately, even within the church. Pressures of the world that can often lead us down a path opposite of God’s plan. What where some of the pressures you faced as a professional skateboarder and how did you deal with them prior to becoming a Christian?
The pressure for me was not knowing what would happen since I wasn't a U.S. citizen yet and it wasn't like I had this skateboarding legacy. Though it would play out where I found my place in the skate world at that time, had I broke my ankle, or fell into some kind of substance abuse I could have been easily back in England.
Also, many Europeans came over to America but couldn't handle the pressures. They couldn't manage the move. It did feel strange being here for a few months, then back for a few months. It wasn't until about five years in that I began to feel comfortable as far as navigating this. I just stayed focus on the goal and didn't look elsewhere.
Did you decide to stop pursuing your career as a professional skater or where their other circumstances at work?
No. I made it as far as I wanted. Then, as a believer, I felt God leading me to restore my marriage, jumping into bible study and Evangelism.
You’ve mentioned, as part of your testimony, that you searched for truth in other religions. At what point did you realize that the Lord was pursuing you? When did you surrender your life to Christ? And, how did that change the direction of your life and career in skating?
It was after challenging many faiths with "facts" they presented and how they didn't hold up, into seeing that god claims that this side of eternity that we actually encounter him in the person of the holy spirit affirming in us we are his and that we are forgiven.
The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the seal upon us. Meaning, that as believers our faith isn't hoping that God is real, but upon being born again, as our eyes and hearts are opened, we know that faith is in following Him and depending upon His leading.
We’ve seen God’s redemptive power in your life as an individual, but there’s a bit more to that story. Would you mind sharing with us about God’s redemptive power and restoration in your marriage?
Yes, for sure, as it's very important! We were married at 19, having our first son at 20, and divorced within 2 years. The falling apart of the most significant thing in our lives left me completely lost. Everything else had pretty much worked out, yet here I was, led to consider what life was about. Where was the truth as I considered a life of divorce, with my sons' parents separated and what that meant? That journey led me to seek the truth and I found it in God's word 7 months later.
I came to faith in my home and went on to share with my ex-wife the next day, shocking her, but ultimately seeing her come to faith three weeks later! We were re-married months later and recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this past December. We also had two more children and since then God began shaping our lives to encourage couples and share about our marriage.
I know you have a heart to share the Gospel. When did you feel the Lord leading you to Evangelism? How did you respond to that calling?
It became very specific. The Gospel began finding its way into every conversation and interaction. It's also worth noting that right when I came to faith, many ministries were heavily focused on outreaches and festivals, which lead me to be invited and share about what God had done in my life. I just viewed this as the norm, but looking back now, it was completely encouraging. I also found that every sermon or interview I did was so focused on the cross and Christ, whether I was preaching from Leviticus, Nehemiah, or whatever. This has been going on for years now and my home church told me that I needed to step out and follow this call.
I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are living in the last days. As we get closer to the time of our redemption (Luke 21:28), God calls us to be busy doing His work. No matter what talent God has given each one of us, we are responsible to obey and invest that (or many) talent(s) for the Kingdom of God. Would you agree? Give us some advice and encouragement on what that looks like in a practical sense.
In the practical sense, believers are only here to reach the lost. If not, why wouldn't He have taken us with him? He called the fishermen to follow Him and at the end of His ministry, He called us all to go.
This is daily, consistently and in word-of-deed. Going doesn't just mean going to multiple places, as if we left to go somewhere how long do we stay, and how soon should we leave to go again? Going means to your school, the skatepark, your work, and of course also the nations.
Many today are living as if by just being alive we are a witness. But the Gospel is a mandate, where we don't wait, or simply live, but as Jesus was a rabbi, He called His followers to take up His yoke, and go, imitating Him, even as Paul said he did. How do you do this? So long as it proclaims the Gospel, meaning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins, is becoming all things to all men.
I want you to take the time now and answer two life changing questions. What does it mean to be saved? And, how do we receive salvation?
How could God change this? How could God change the fact that we are all born in sin, having a selfish, self-serving nature, not eager to seek Him and unable to live a life of holiness? The only way He could change this is by sending the only perfect sacrifice, His son Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to live a perfect, sinless life. Jesus went to the cross, died in our place, a sinners death, taking all of our sins upon Himself. Because He was perfect, and the perfect sacrifice makes a way for us to be forgiven, He paid the price, took the judgment upon Himself due to us. Then He resurrected three days later, proving He has victory over death and the grave. So, though we were once dead, we will be raised again, sin-free and will stand before God, hidden in Jesus. Meaning that He made the way for any sinner to be forgiven of all their sin, saved from eternal condemnation.
How do we receive this? Freely! Jesus said My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me. So as we hear this good news about what God has done, how he has made a way for us, and how we can now be forgiven, our eyes become open to our sin. We understand the work of Christ and the cross. As the Holy Spirit convicts us and leads, we repent, meaning turn from this life of sin and opposition to God we've been living. Begin to actively live life as believers, having become part of God's family, led by the Holy Spirit, who in turn leads us to be transformed all the more into Christ's image.
How do we receive this? We hear, and we believe! The bible says that with the heart one believes and with the mouth one confesses. God does the work in the heart and we receive this gift of God. Some respond when a friend or individual shares this truth with them, and they, in turn, understand and right there feel led to confess, acknowledge their sin, and cry out to God. Others, at times, simply know the moment when everything changed and God began His work in them. They understood their need for God, what He's done and soon their life begins to show that. None of us can do anything to be forgiven, saved or born again. It is simply responding to God's work as His grace leads us to faith. For me, I was 24 and had come to realize that I was a sinner in need of forgiveness, so I asked God to forgive me. I acknowledged my wrongdoing, and that He as Lord alone could save me and make me new... and He did! Anyone reading this right now, as they are led, can freely cry out to God.
What is your ministry all about? How can people contact you and your ministry?
Since 2004 God began opening ministry doors. However, in 2013 I stepped out into full-time ministry raising support, being available in and out of season, as the Bible says for whatever may come up. I've also been sharing all around the world, hundreds of times a year within three specific areas of ministry: Missions - Marriages - Ministry. This means as part of the teaching team at my home church, as an itinerant preacher in other churches, to youth groups, rehabs, schools, colleges, universities, outreaches, conferences, festivals as well as leading missions trips. The best ways to get a hold of me are through my website BrianSumner.net or via my Instagram account.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A few years ago I put out a 30-day marriage devotion called Never Fails. I also host the weekly podcast called "Foolishness". The goal moving forward is simply to reach more people for Jesus, as the world gets darker.
It’s been an amazing interview Brian. I know you’re a busy man, so, thank you for taking the time to share your story and insights with us! It’s our prayer that the Lord would continue to grow you and your ministry, and would continue to change lives through it. Blessings!
ABOUT BRIAN SUMNER
Brian's professional skateboarding career has spanned over a decade long. Since surrendering his life to Christ, he has devoted himself to his family and to ministry. He is an Evangelist, a Pastor, Speaker and in 2015 an author.
Head over to Brian's website for videos, his full length testimony, news and more at www.BrianSumner.net.
He started a podcast in 2019 called “Foolishness” which you can listen to by going HERE.