Fathering difficulties revealed skater’s angry core
As a child growing up in Liverpool, Brian Sumner always felt somewhat “out of place.” It was a rough environment with lots of fighting, but at age 13, he visited his sisters in New Jersey. One of them bought Brian a skateboard for his 13th birthday and he found something that captured his attention and gave him an escape.
Returning to Liverpool, he started skating at, and winning, various competitions. After finishing school, he pursued skating further in Huntington Beach, California, where he recalls sharing apartments with Andrew Reynolds, Jay Strickland, Jim Greco, Ali Boulala and “the whole Warner Ave Crew stage of skating”. He ultimately landed a gig at Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse.
Brian skated whenever he could and was featured in videos and magazines. “I was a teenager travelling the world with no responsibilities but to skateboard, eat food and hang out in local jacuzzis,” he says.
At age 19 Brian met his future wife, Tracy. They were together for four months before driving to Las Vegas to marry.
“There was a man who shared with us from the book of First Corinthians chapter 13 and he told us about love. We were in love, but did we really know love?” Brian recalls in a video for IAmSecond.com.
Brian chose to work at a Christian thrift shop, thinking that he could find some bargains while undertaking his own search for God. He felt as if life had no meaning and says, “I decided I was going to look for God and prove He wasn’t real. If He wasn’t real, then everything is permissible and nothing truly matters.”
Brian started reading about different religions.
“I saw that many of the faiths never started and ended anywhere,” he adds. “They don’t deal with the issues of why we are here, if we matter, if we are to be a certain way and what happens after we die.”
As well as the Bible, he read another book in the Thrift store, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, which answered many of these questions.
“I read and read, watched and watched but had not met Jesus,” Brian says.
He was invited to church by another skater, Christian Hosoi. There he heard from Matthew chapter 7, verse 21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
Brian explains, “I understood that I was in sin (doing wrong by God’s standard) and it wasn’t that I needed God to change my life, but I needed God to save me from hell because of my sins... I had an understanding of the Bible but had no relationship with Jesus Christ.”
After returning home that night, Brian got into a fight with his ex-wife, whom he had invited to live with him for their son’s sake.
“That night I went into the office and got on my face before the Lord. It was around midnight and I prayed a prayer about how I was over my life and that I was sick of fighting with Tracy, and not knowing how to be the dad I should be. I called out being as serious as I could be and shared with the Lord my heart.
“I said I was over everything, and that I wouldn’t believe unless He showed up. I pleaded with Him for 40 minutes about the simple things I don’t understand and the things we fight about that I am sorry for. I acknowledged my sins and asked to be forgiven,” recalls Brian.
“I felt a presence approaching in that room that I can only describe as a ball of energy and in one instant, everything about my mindset and doubt were changed. He did what He claimed and transformed my life… I fell on the floor with joy but wept because I couldn’t believe people don’t know this is real.”
As Brian settled into bed, his ex-wife sat up with her eyes closed and repeated everything he had experienced, although she could not remember doing so the next day. Tracy soon noticed a change in Brian as he no longer had an interest in the house or what she decided to do, but was focused on God. She had many questions for Brian, but soon after, she decided to follow Jesus after speaking with a preacher at Brian’s church.
Brian was baptised in 2004 and he and Tracy remarried in 2005.
They are both heavily involved with their church, have had two more children and recently renewed their vows.
Skateboarding is no longer the ultimate thing is Brian’s life, instead it is Jesus Christ.
He does, however, still enjoy riding. Over time his sponsors changed so he could come along side other Christians and travel to tell people about Jesus through skating.
Brian’s testimony on http://www.briansumner.net/ concludes with Philippians chapter 3, verse 8, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”