Childhood friends since they first started crawling, Jordan Beau, 9 of Lake Elsinore and Frank Spinos, 8, of La Costa spent a Saturday morning practicing 180’s, airing out, kickflips and defying gravity at the new Glory Indoor Skate park in Lake Elsinore. Although Beau is a sponsored skater with six years experience and Spinos is a six-month novice in the sport, both came out of the converted industrial warehouse with their moms making plans to return.
After seeing a flyer for the opening of the newest skate venue in the valley, the boys decided to check it out. The verdict was positive. “They’ve got good jumps and stuff,” assessed Beau. They became regular guests at the skate park after it opened on February 15 and subsequently joined with memberships to save on costs per session. Another Glory Skate park is under construction in San Marcos with more locations planned.
After the competing in the first annual Glory Days skate contest on March 22, Beau earned third-place winnings of $25 and a Glory Skateboard T-shirt in the 12 and under category. It could be the beginning for the aspiring pro.
If the name didn’t give it away, Glory Skate Park is part of a Christian ministry founded by Lake Elsinore resident Jonathon Mills, 34, about eight years ago.
Despite the outward trappings of success at the age of 23, Mills found little satisfaction with his lucrative job managing an $85 million-a-year company; his luxury sports car; his beachfront home and his material wealth. With the exception of his relationships with his wife Elizabeth, family and friends, he felt his life was barren and without meaning. He prayed to God for an answer.
The response he received during his daily prayer surprised Mills, who spent his junior high school years on a skateboard but didn’t consider himself a “skater.” Mills said he was given a calling from God to give it all up, to quit his job and start a skate ministry to take the Christian message to the next generation.
“I prayed to God to show me a way to use me for His Glory, that’s where the name Glory comes from,” Mills said in a previous interview. “So, He told me to build ramps and start a skate ministry. I was like, uh, you’ve got the wrong Jonathon. I don’t really skate.” But Mills answered the call.
The next day with the support of his wife, Mills quit his job, put their belongings up for sale and created Glory Skateboards at age 25. Mills began to manufacture a skateboard and clothing line, skateboard ramps and travel around the country, Chile and Brazil bringing a positive Christian message to skaters at skateboard demonstrations during the building of skate parks.
Mills recently donated his services towards the building of the new Wildomar Skate Park at Cornerstone Community Church in November 2007.
“The significance of the name is whether it’s skateboarding or biking, or whatever people are into, we shouldn’t do things for our own glory, our own self,” said Mills. “It’s about doing things for God’s Glory, giving Him credit for our talents whether it’s skateboarding or whatever. ”
The idea to start a permanent indoor skate park came to Mills in prayer while he was involved with the building of the Wildomar Skate Park. He was torn between his obligations to God, his international skate ministry and his family.
Adopted at birth when Mills and his wife longed to have a child, their three-year old daughter Hailey was later diagnosed with a fatal genetic defect and drastically shortened life expectancy. “She is in God’s Hands,” said Mills.
He said building the indoor skate park allowed skaters to skate year-round without concern for rainy days or blistering summer heat.
It also answered his prayers and allowed him to stay home with his wife and two young daughters, now including the miracle of their one-year old toddler. He plans to host skating demonstrations, skate camps and lock-in overnighters without the burden of traveling and losing precious time with his family.
Besides the overtones of the Christian-oriented ministry with the prohibition against cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and foul language, an opening prayer takes place at the beginning of the skate competition. However, the skate park is devoid of aggressive evangelization or religious conversion of the skaters.
A full-length waterfall fountain in the lobby gives a Zen-like feel to the entryway, and one almost expects to see pillows and bamboo mats on the floor. Instead, the main skate park arena is stocked for the business of skating. News is traveling fast with flyers and signs. Over 300 skaters have used the facility since it opened a month ago, says Mills.
Drop-offs are welcome if parents are unable to stay and staff keeps track of who is in the facility and keeps an eye on visitors outside. Whether the skaters choose to participate in the Christian ministry is entirely their own decision, says Mills.
Ten-year old Daniel Tarapchack, a fifth-grader at Alta Murrieta elementary school in Murrieta, started skating about a year ago and captured second-place in his competition, winning $50, a skate deck and Glory Skateboard t-shirt. First prize winners won $100, two skate decks and a t-shirt. “It’s like surfing. It’s so fun! You try to get as much feet as you can, fly up and jump down,” he said excitedly with wide eyes and motioning his arms to explain.
For more information, visit www.gloryskateministry.com or contact the park at (909) 569-2565. Glory Skate Park is at 18541 Collier Ave. in Lake Elsinore.