Cindy Bonham, left, with her son, Nate, who is raising funds for a Brazilian tour. S. Vernon photos
by Suzanne Vernon
For the Pathfinder
June 25, 1998
How does a skateboarding teenager from Seeley Lake find his place in a world that considers "Generation X" teens to be purposeless and plagued with a lack of ambition and leadership?
He gives his talents to God and reaps rewards far beyond the applause from peers at the local skateboard park.
"Skateboarding is one of the things that I love to do. Once I gave it over to Him and for his use, he just gave it all back to me," 15-year-old Nate Tanner-Bonham of Seeley Lake said recently. Bonham was one of 20 teens who toured the United States this spring as part of the "GX jam" ministry team associated with Impact World Tours, a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) program that presents a born-again message of hope to hundreds of thousands of teens worldwide every year.
"It's all about Jesus Christ. He's the center of all of our lives. It's fun, because God uses fun things," Bonham said recently, and then added with a smile, "I'm totally stoked on it."
The GX jam ministry team put together a skateboarding, rollerblading, biking and dancing show to reach teens at school assemblies around the country. GX jam emphasizes a lifestyle free from drugs, alcohol, gang violence and premarital sex. In every community, they also present "hub nite" activities to audiences averaging 4,000 in number. During "hub night" the team preaches an evangelistic Christian message.
The purpose of the GX jam ministry is two-fold, according to YWAM officials: to reach teens for Christ and to prepare workers for the mission field.
Bonham is prepared. YWAM officials are impressed with his walk with God, his maturity, and his ability to skate. They would welcome him back in a minute, they said. After three months on the road traveling from Hawaii, to Missouri, Ohio and Michigan, Bonham also wants to go back. Lord willing, he will work with the YWAM teams in Brazil in August. As part of the activities associated with the Global Christian Conference in Brazil, several youth ministry teams will present programs to more than 1100 schools in less than three weeks. They also expect to perform in front of crowds numbering up to 137,000 in soccer stadiums throughout that country.
"It'll be totally awesome," Bonham insisted, in typical teen-jargon.
Bonham's life goals have come into better focus because of his experience with YWAM.
"The Lord just changed me. I was just a kid skateboarding who had Jesus Christ in him, but I wasn't serving Him. Skateboarding was my God, but I gave it back to Him, and he gave it all back to me. He'll use a willing heart and what you love to do to minister to others," Bonham explained.
Bonham's other hobby besides skating is music. He plays acoustic guitar, and helps with worship services at Faith Chapel and during Christian youth activities in the commuity. He has shared his testimony a number of times. At a young age, his parents were divorced, and he reacted to those circumstances with a rebellious attitude. He credits his mother, Cindy, and stepfather Tom, with helping him grow up.
"Tom has shown me how real God is, how much God does love you. Understanding that can really set you free of all this junk," Bonham said.
In addition to the support he receives from his parents, Bonham's adopted brother and sisters (Emily, 11; Hannah, 9; and Josh, age 7) all pitched in to do his chores for him while he was on tour this spring. Bonham and his siblings are all homeschooled by their mother, a career teacher who retired so she could provide her children with a Christian education at home.
"Homeschooling is neat when you have such a great teacher," Bonham said.
Friends and other family members also supported him, both spiritually and financially, for the spring tour with GX jam. They donated over $2000 to him so he could participate.
The Brazil tour in August will cost an additional $2000. Bonham's family will be conducting fundraising activities in the coming weeks to help him raise the money for the trip.