Thousands of Egyptians are expected to watch next week when a group of Coeur d’Alene skateboarders and bikers soar up and down ramps, jumping cars and rows of people. Then they’ll listen as the young men talk about their personal experiences with Christianity.
Boarders for Christ, a Coeur d’Alene-based nonprofit organization, will make its second annual trip to Egypt on Monday to perform at a three-day Christian festival expected to draw 20,000 people to a large church camp near Cairo.
“We want to say that God is love, and we want to work through his hands,” said Josh Monteith, 22.
“It’s cool that we are skateboarders because a lot of skateboarders have a bad rap.”
“The whole point is to preach the Gospel,” said Josh Tyvan, 21, who went on last year’s trip. He said many of the Egyptian Christians he met fear God and pray for mercy rather than experiencing God’s love. “We don’t have Bible school degrees, we just want to love people and do whatever we can to serve.”
Last year, Boarders for Christ was invited to the festival and raised $15,000 to attend.
The group joined with skateboard manufacturers to give away 100 skateboards to Egyptian youths. This year, plans to attend didn’t come together until a few weeks ago, but the North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, Calif., donated $5,000 toward travel expenses. The church supports events at the Egyptian church, said Chris Lauri, director of Boarders for Christ.
Some $9,000 of the $15,000 in trip costs have been raised. Boarders for Christ will hold a fundraiser on Saturday in Coeur d’Alene; then the group leaves Monday for Egypt.
Boarders for Christ was formed in Coeur d’Alene in 1997 and now has chapters in Washington and California.
The group has released a skateboarding film and has toured the country holding skateboarding demonstrations at Christian events and festivals.
The trip to Egypt will be a different type of mission, Tyvan said. About 90 percent of the country is Muslim, with Christians forming the largest religious minority, U.S. State Department statistics show. The festival will be held at the El Wadi camp of the Kasr el Dobara church, about two hours north of Cairo.
“The church is literally an oasis in the middle of the desert,” Tyvan said. The church camp offers free sports programs to Cairo youth, including soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, a ropes course and a skate park. The Boarders group includes: Tyvan, Monteith, Lauri, Zach Black, Noel Riske, Terry Riske, Mike Miller, Greg Foeller, and Wes Luke.
“We’re bringing the Gospel and the story of Jesus,” said Black, 22. “That’s our whole mission.”