On July 7, 2007, JD and Nikki Carabin opened their garage to skaters on what would become the first Friday Night Skate. he started small: going out to area skate parks with a cooler of water and a love for these kids no one else seemed to want. JD and his wife Nicky began to invite skaters on Friday nights to skate in their garage. Soon, close to 20 came each Friday night. Many of these kids would show up right after school and stay till midnight. No one was calling to see where their kids were. No one was checking to see if they had eaten. So JD and Nicky began to serve the kids dinner and share The Word. JD confessed, “My wife and I sold anything we had of value to fund the ministry. Eventually we sold our home as well.” Over the next few years, a dozen kids stayed with the couple to escape substance, physical and emotional abuse. Meanwhile, hundreds of skaters professed a growing faith in Christ.
Tom—a lawyer—has been a member of First Presbyterian Church since the mid-1980s. In Rotary, Tom first heard about JuJu and decided to take them some meals. He then asked his church to do the same. After awhile JuJu couldn’t pay the rent, so the church helped. Later JuJu still couldn’t pay their rent and shuttered their doors. On that very day, the skate ministry received a grant for being a bright new worshipping community. JuJu resurrected! Paying off their debt and leaving the building behind, Serious JuJu became mobile, taking to the streets. With portable ramps, they set up all over town. JD and Nicky would eventually move out of state and once again, the ministry was threatened.
Today, JuJu meets in an urban warehouse. They arrive on skateboards from the surrounding mixed and low-income neighborhood, get rides from the small town of Evergreen. Some skate in all the way from Kila 13 miles away. These kids come rain, shine, or freezing cold— which in Montana is most of the time. Working single moms drop off their kids and express gratitude for a place they know they will be safe and fed. On a recent summer night, a skater thanked our volunteers for the meal and confessed that this would be his only meal of the weekend. Ever since, at the end of the skate night we pass out 30-40 bags of food to last the weekend. Two brothers called home at 9:00pm to get picked up. Their parents stated, “No, we are not coming to get you. Find your own way home.” Often, we don’t know where the kids are going but they aren’t going home.
Tom drove Evan home to pick up things he needed for the weekend. His parents were getting high and Evan needed to get home and grab a few things before crashing on a friend’s couch. Evan’s home is two singlewide trailers pushed together with a tarp between. Evan shared that it can be difficult to sleep with the open wall especially when it stays below freezing. Today, Evan’s mom threatens to kick him out. “My family sucks,” he confesses. “JuJu is my family.” Kelly met JD when she was 12 and high. She started coming to skate and get away from the constant influx of strangers and drugs at home. With a brother in prison, a mother constantly high, a stepfather taking too much interest in her, and plans for the family to move out of state, Kelly got out. Leaving home at 14, she knew she had a place to go, JuJu. Back when it looked like JuJu was dead and buried, Kelly believed. She led us– unbelievers, full of doubt. Today, she is emancipated. Each Friday this teenager watches the warehouse like a mama bear: a bold, courageous, no-nonsense leader.
Last summer, JuJu skaters took to Main Street to skate in the 4th of July Parade. Afterwards, they hosted a community BBQ and skate right on Main Street. Last August, JuJu celebrated the Sacrament of Baptism for 17 people who have never been baptized before. 95 witnesses stood on the banks of the Flathead River as each one took the cross and were lowered into the 59 degree water as a sign of their life, death, and resurrection as a new creation in Christ. Ten years into this ministry, we are entering our fourth generation of skaters. October 2016, Pastor Miriam was hired part-time as our Community Pastor after serving us for years. Throughout the year, we host 2-4 nights each week of skating along with Bible study and preaching -The Word- given by a variety of speakers who are partners throughout the valley. Some come to play chess, others to skate, many just meet up with friends and get out of the house to eat a meal before the long weekend. Here, kids are welcomed with joy. They are listened to and loved. Lives are changed. We rely on God's daily grace from generous, enthusiastic supporters like you.
For hundreds of youth, JuJu is the only church they will enter. Our lawyer and champion Tom confessed, “Miriam, JuJu has changed me. You see, I was the Apostle Paul. I used to prosecute kids like these all the time. Now, they’ve changed my life!” Let these athletes and young people change your life too. Become an investor today!