A Davenport young man believes that God is urging him to undertake a “skateboard ministry” and share a unique religious message with children in Africa.
Justice Kellenberger, 19, a skateboarding enthusiast and member of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport, will be part of a mission trip leaving next week for Kimondo, Kenya. Those on the trip include his mother, Pennie Kellenberger, and a team of dentists who will provide care to those in the Kenyan community.
Davenport-based Fishers of Men Ministries Inc. is sponsoring the mission trip. Justice will pack 10 skateboards, and the Kenyans in Kimondo are in the process of building ramps for his outreach effort.
Justice began skateboarding 10 years ago and is active these days with Skate Church, a ministry at St. John’s that caters to youth and includes an indoor skating facility. Before the church bought the former Wayne Montgomery furniture store across the street, it put ramps in the St. John’s parking lot and opened it up to interested children.
Justice went to the area every Saturday to hone his skills. He got tips from older skateboarders and practiced as much as possible.
He works to reflect God in his life and choices.
“This is a big challenge I’m facing, but I’m hoping this is what God wants me to do. What I am, and what I do, is for the glory of God,” he said.
The mission trip will focus on an orphanage in Kimondo. Justice expects to teach skateboarding to the orphans, and he also will try his skills on the streets.
“I trust in God, and I’ll see what he wants me to do. I plan to go with the flow,” he said.
Fishers of Men Ministries recently raised money to build a medical clinic in Kimondo. A new well was installed next to the clinic, paid for with money raised by children at St. John’s.
This will be the second trip to Kenya in two years for Pennie Kellenberger, who directs The Center at St. John’s and is also on the board of directors for Fishers of Men Ministries. She noted that the area they will serve is a rural part of the African country, but people come from miles around for medical care as well as for clean water from the well.
After Justice announced that he was going to take Skate Church to Kenya, the Davenport teens who are members of the organization helped raise more than half of the funds needed for the trip, she said. She plans to use Skype and Facebook to stay in contact with the youth back home.
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Justice has some experience in skateboarding ministry. This past summer, the high school graduate took a mission trip to a South Dakota reservation where he taught Native American children. “We pulled a ramp up there, skateboarded and hung out with the kids and talked about God,” he explained.
He believes children are more receptive to a religious message after they see him on his skateboard.
“They do open up to you more if they also look up to you for something,” he said.
In the meantime, his mother hopes the trip is also a good example to the young people she works with in Davenport. She hopes the trip will help open the world to them and encourage the use of their talents, including skateboarding, to help change lives.
“My heart and my passion are with these kids,” she said of her work at The Center.