BANGOR, Maine — A Skowhegan native will bring his skateboard ministry to a Bangor church today.
Jud “Farmboy” Heald, a professional skateboarder, and his team from Untitled Skateboards will perform at 6 p.m. at Abundant Life Church, 1404 Broadway. It will be the team’s first performance in Bangor.
Heald, 32, turned his life over to God after breaking his neck in a snowboarding accident as a teenager, he said Thursday in a telephone interview. He started the skateboard ministry, based in Joplin, Mo., in 2004.
The married father of four grew up in Skowhegan attending Four Square Gospel Church, now the Central Maine Christian Center, and graduated from Skowhegan Regional High School.
Heald was 18 when he fell 16 feet and landed directly on his head while snowboarding at Sugarloaf, he said. After he returned home, the intense pain sent him to the doctor, who told Heald he would need surgery and have to wear a halo — a large head brace that would be bolted onto his skull — until the fracture healed.
With his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder in jeopardy, Heald turned to alcohol and drugs, he told Christianity Today in 2003. Although he had attended church his entire life, the skateboarder had never turned his life over to God. As he was healing, Heald began praying and reading the Bible.
“I started asking the Lord, ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What do you want me to do for your glory and honor?’” Heald said Thursday.
The answer was skateboarding and ministry.
Heald has worked with some of the best-known evangelists in the world, including Luis Palau, the native of Argentina whose Portland, Ore.-based ministry is known throughout the world. Palau’s free family festivals often include demonstrations by professional skateboarders such as Heald.
“Today’s young people understand music and technology,” Palau said in a statement on his Web site, “but few have an understanding of what a life walked in faith can produce. They don’t know the person of Jesus Christ — that he is alive, that he is divine and that he wants every one of us to know him personally.”
Heald said Thursday that he and his team will give local skateboarders a full-scale demonstration of their skills.
“We will give a quality show,” he said, “and through that we earn the kids’ respect. Once we have that, we want to share truth with them. We’ll use that venue or moment of contact to share something they can actually take home.
“We want to show young people that they can go 100 percent after the thing they love, but first they must ask, ‘Lord, how do you want me to live my life?’” Heald said.
Heald said that next month he will be in Iraq with a team of skateboarders to perform for the troops. He and the team, which is not connected to Heald’s ministry, will visit seven bases and give demonstrations for thousands of soldiers.
The Rev. Josh Damon, pastor of Abundant Life, said Heald and his team will perform for about an hour with music and an emcee, then give a Gospel presentation.
“This is a great fit for our church and for Bangor,” Damon said Thursday. “Every time I go to the skate park, I see a dozen or two [dozen] young people. This is very relevant to this generation and this culture.”
Damon said that about a dozen churches in Skowhegan, Brewer, Millinocket and other towns have supported the demonstration by Untitled Skateboards at Abundant Life. The minister said the congregation hopes to hold a similar event next year.