Written by Carter Theis
PODCAST: Darren Wells Topic: How and why he created KKSM and Reliance Skateboards
In the first few minutes of our conversation, I’m overwhelmed by Darren’s enthusiasm and general love for people. His California twang is familiar. The terms “bro” and “dude” roll off his tongue in true, authentic L.B.C. form, (Long Beach,CA). Darrin Wells is the creator and current overseer of King of King Skateboard Ministries (KKSM) and Reliance Skateboards. Both are products of a simple realization Wells came to while visiting a skate shop with his four boys one day, all of which skate. “There was nothing legit in the skateboard scene that represented Christ. And anything that did was cheesy,” Wells stated. “So I basically just asked the Lord, ‘ya-know, if you want me to do something, let me know?’”
Well, that casual prayer was made 8 years ago, and since then Darren’s day to day activities have significantly changed. Saying good-by to his normal life and regular sales job, Wells now works out of a tiny office in the back of a skate shop that his son owns. His daily activities include managing the Reliance skateboard brand he created, keeping websites up to date, organizing KKSM skate demos around the world, making skateboards and clothing, managing the pro and am skaters on the Reliance team and staying close to the Messiah.
“We originally started as a skateboard company; King of Kings Skateboard Company. But I soon noticed that although the boards were selling in 100 stores and the business aspect was working, the coolest thing was when our skaters Luke Braddock and Elijah Moore wanted to tell kids about Jesus and many kids responded!” At that point Wells realized it wasn’t about the sales, it was about the ministry. Realizing this, Wells had to part ways with his original partner, but as the ministry aspect began to settle in, King of King Skateboard Ministry (KKSM) was born.
Certain players at Enoch Magazine can relate to the “company–turned-ministry” model. When Enoch started making t-shirts back in 2001 we had some early success, but some of our partners saw success as just selling shirts and sponsoring bands. Like Darren Wells, we also discovered the ministry aspect was too important to neglect. When you part ways with original founders, fear can set in, but God has a plan in place. Wells had to sit tight for four months but soon started to see things pick up. “My wife really helped with the ministry transition. I couldn’t have done it without her, and seeking the Lord.” Wells’ crew got a van and a trailer and started showing up at events with ramps and skaters. They started seeing more skaters joining their team and soon they were getting known as a skateboard ministry.
But not long after, Wells again saw the need for a legitimate skateboard brand that would represent God well, but at the same time, give an opportunity for the brand’s riders to have a platform to be heard in the skateboard world. “Through my relying on God we came up with the name Reliance Skateboards,” Wells explains. “Once we launched Reliance, Luke and Elijah had a board to ride and then Chris Weigele and eventually more guys came on the team.” Riders from the KKSM team soon turned pro which started to build the brand side of Reliance. Wells found that pro riders really legitimatized the ministry side of KKSM; demos were more successful and larger crowds assembled.
Today, KKSM travels around the world utilizing the skateboarders/people that have been provided to them. From Africa, to New Zealand, to Houston Texas, KKSM and it’s riders are out there “ripping it up.” And if there isn’t a skate park in site, KKSM will bring one in, or like in Africa, build one and leave it for the community! However, after the KKSM/Reliance skaters have grinded all the rails and kick-flipped all the stairs, the event is not over. At every event following the skating, Wells has one of the skaters share what they know about God to whatever crowd has gathered. “Guys will speak either on a microphone to 30,000 people like we did in Africa, or directly to 20 skaters at a skate park,” says Wells, “it doesn’t matter.” He insists that they will not show up to an event or do a demo without sharing the gospel. After each KKSM demo, a Pro-skater explains who God is in their own words and shares personal experiences they’ve had. Next, they explain what the Gospel is and what it means to “accept Christ.” And finally, they give their listeners an opportunity to act on what they’ve heard and pray with them.
“Our whole goal is to get people saved through the platform of skateboarding,” Wells says, “people look back and think ‘Wow, how did you think of all this?’ I didn’t, it was all God because he had a plan and I was just willing to do whatever…” To find out more about KKSM’s events or to bring them to your city, check out the links below. And throw some prayers up for Darren and the crew if you can!