Christian Hosoi & Brian Sumner
Professional Skateboarders Set the Pace for Action
The upcoming movie Hardflip, features captivating and compelling skateboarding scenes. The live action boarding can be credited to the skills of professionals Brian Sumner and Christian Hosoi. While these two pros may be known throughout the world for their boarding skills, they recently shared with Risen how they met, the experiences that brought them together and the faith that they now share.
Interviewed Exclusively for Risen Magazine in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: What first intrigued you about Hardflip and made you want to be involved with the movie?
Brian Sumner: A friend and pro surfer, Matt Beecham, had worked on the film Cutback, with the same director as Hardflip, Johnny Remo. Matt called me and said, “Johnny has a script that is set with the background of skateboarding and obviously with you being a Christian, I think you might want to come alongside.” So I met with the director, we ate some pizza, and he handed me a script. Then for whatever reason, my 10-year-old son picked up the script and just started reading it. Within two days, he finished a 90-page script and said he understood it and loved it. [I thought] If you can tell this story to a kid and he gets it, [coupled with the fact that] I began to see layer upon layer of biblical truths in it, it became clear that this was a project I wanted to be involved with. I wanted to help and make sure the heart of it was for reaching others. It was really cool to see it all happen.
Christian Hosoi: I thought it seemed like a great project that I could be a part of and [help] change people’s lives. And really that’s what I want to do in this world, change people’s lives. The film is all about relationships, redemption, discovery, and second chances. It’s about overcoming obstacles in life and the struggles people go through. It’s interesting how skateboarding is the platform for it, but also the backdrop for what the real message is, and that’s the Gospel, and that’s Jesus’ love, mercy, and forgiveness being revealed through the characters in the film.
This movie could bring a lot of restoration and reconciliation between relationships and I think that’s super important today, because we’ve got a fatherless generation. Kids are out there, wanting to be mentored, wanting to be disciplined and loved and cared for, and it’s just not happening. You look at the product of that, you see these kids and they are just rough. This movie is a great tool in the hands of God to change the world we live in.
RM: Not only are you both great skaters, but you are friends too. Brian, how did Christian impact your decision to follow Christ and your friendship now?
BS: I heard of Christian when I first started skating. At 13 years old in Liverpool, I had watched a contest event he was skating in. He was of an older generation; I always looked up to that stuff, but I was primarily a street skater. Years later when making it over to America, I ran into Christian a few times when he wasn’t doing so well. It was some five or so years later when I was going through [some stuff myself] and [searching] for the Lord that I ran into him again at the Lake Forest Park, at an event at The Skate Lab, and then again at Vans [Skate Sponsor]. I was trying to figure things out. Christian had just gotten out of prison and heard I was “searching”.
When [we talked] he invited me to church. I had also met Pastor Jay Haizlip who was skating with him at Vans one night. Just after that I showed up at the church and heard Pastor Jay preaching out of [Bible references] Galatians 5 and Matt 7:21, the word of God spoke to me that night eight or so years ago, and I have been close with Christian ever since. Today our faith comes before our skating and we have the same goals. We hang most days, and are always doing some kind of ministry together, even aside from serving at the same church.
RM: Speaking of some of those challenges, Christian, you’ve been very open when it comes to discussing your time spent in prison. What was it for you that helped make a change in your life?
CH: It’s funny how people finally cry out to God in a rock bottom experience, and for me, it was that. It was me not being able to get myself out of a situation – all my strings were cut, there were no resources for me to draw on, so I finally cried out to God. And from a prison cell I said, “God if you’re real, will you help me?” And in the prison cell I questioned, “God why am I here? What did I do wrong?” I’m sitting there pointing my finger at all these people that I thought should be here [behind bars] and [why] I shouldn’t, and in reality, I’m not responsible for anyone else, I’m responsible for my choices. In that place I cried out to God and God revealed himself through his scriptures. My wife Jennifer said, “Christian, you need to go get a Bible.” And I was like, “What are you talking about? I need a lawyer. I need an attorney. I need bail, babe.” She said, “No we’ve got to trust in God; God’s going to get us through this [trial].” And that was the moment that I finally opened up my heart and asked God to come in and he revealed his truth to me. I was in a prison cell, but really a revelation happened. It was like I had been in a prison of sin and death my whole life, and then actually being in a real prison cell, [allowed me to ask] and to be set free by the Lord. He loved me and died for me to give me that freedom and the liberty to live a life of peace and joy and forgiveness and mercy. His grace empowers me to continue living for him and it all started in a prison cell. That’s where I got set free. It’s mindboggling how that happened and how God spoke to me in that place [so that] I realized I was in prison my whole life. But that’s who God is; he’s an amazing God.
RM: Sometimes situations can be hard to understand and the importance of trusting God and his plan. Brian, you have such an interesting story about the trials in your marriage. Will you share a bit about what you endured?
BS: I wasn’t a Christian at the time [when I met my wife], so I don’t know that I knew she was the one, but I knew that I was passionate. I’m a guy with tunnel vision; most men have tunnel vision. The Bible talks about Adam naming all the animals – a woman doesn’t want to do that, but men want to do something like that. I fell in love with skating and I fell in love with this girl at 19 years of age. She’s a little bit older than me and after being here [in the U.S.] for only four months, and madly in love, I said, “Do you want to get married?” And we took off in the car to Vegas.
Not being a Christian at the time, I’ll say this, we knew as far as the world can know, that it was right. We had passionate love, but here’s the reality, you kind of love people because of the way they look, or the way they think, or the way they act, or the way that they treat you… so this is my wife and we’re madly in love, but what is it that I love about her? Is it the way she looks, the way she acts, the way she makes me feel…because if it is, then really I love myself and the way it makes me feel. This is the same way a person would do drugs, or need fame, or attention, or world peace in order to feel good about themselves – I was getting something out of it. And within a year or two of being married, with everything the world ministers to you about what’s better out there – the girl here, or the girl liking the guy that’s flirting with her in Starbucks – we were divorced.
Years later, a long story, and God transforming powers… my ex-wife and I did both become Christians and we got re-married.
Yes, I consider myself a role model, and not because I’m so great, but because I trust in God, and I believe in God, and I want to be used by God…
RM: Wow! Talk about forgiveness; now you know that she is the perfect partner for you.
BS: Today if you were to say, “Is she the one?” I would say, “Absolutely.” First Corinthians 13 says that love never ever fails. So our marriage can never fail unless we give up loving each other. It’s kind of like we say we love people unconditionally, but really we only love them as long as they keep our conditions. We say, “That’s my wife so long as she does this, this, this and this…” and when she doesn’t, then suddenly we’re questioning God on it. I’ll never get divorced, all the things she could probably do… even the things that the Bible says you’re entitled to get divorced for, and I probably wouldn’t. Because now, if I love her, the way “Brian” loves her, the best she’s going to get is my attention and a consented word that she’s going to be my wife. But in reality, to love her, the way Christ loved the church, which I’m called to do, then we will never fail and she’s definitely the one. The point [here is that] you shouldn’t marry someone that is unequally yoked; you should marry a person that is pursuing the Lord, loves the Lord, and is living a life of ministry – that will be your spouse.
RM: God has definitely gifted you both when it when it comes to skateboarding and many look up to you two in the sport. Christian, do you recognize yourself as a role model and accept a certain amount of responsibility, or do you just try to live true to who you are?
CH: I knew I was an influence back when I was young. I turned pro at 14 years old and I knew I had a huge influence on people, but I didn’t really understand the impact that it would have on their lives. Now as a Christian, I’m looking at my children and I want them to be just like me.
Yes, I consider myself a role model, and not because I’m so great, but because I trust in God, and I believe in God, and I want to be used by God, and that right there is not a prideful thing, but a humbleness that I’m just a servant of God. I want to be that example to this generation and it first starts with my kids, then my friends, and whoever else. Hopefully, they see the Lord in me and they see the light of Jesus Christ living in me. Everyone says actions speak louder than words, because it’s true. But if your words can back it up, then that’s double the power.
I think kids are looking for someone that will tell them the truth, love them for who they are, not judge them, not condemn them, but tell them God loves them and he desires to have a relationship with them, and that requires change. God doesn’t call us to stay where we are, he doesn’t leave us where we’re at once he saves us; he desires us to go further with him. I’m still growing, I’m still getting better and making better choices, I’m still falling more in love with the Lord everyday and that’s what a relationship should be like.
RM: Especially for boys and young men to have that leadership. Too many homes are missing a father, which is also one of the main themes in
CH: It’s good to have an earthly father and to know him, but really it’s about understanding who our father in Heaven is. Our earthly fathers can be great, but it doesn’t even compare to our Heavenly Father who is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-caring and wants to be there unconditionally. In our world there are so many conditions that fathers put on their children that are just wrong. But once you know the Heavenly Father, all that other stuff just becomes something that needs to be sorted out and worked through.
RM: What do you want people to walk away with after watching this film?
BS: It’s really a movie about forgiveness. It’s about the pain you might have felt or the misunderstandings you might have and how there is normally an answer and a solution, and ultimately it’s the cross [where Jesus died for man’s sins]. The pain from the past can be dealt with and it’s something that skating or family can’t fill, but the Lord can.