In a world where extreme sports and ministry are increasingly used in the same sentence, Jay Haizlip is a true renaissance man. Considered one of the pioneering greats in the sport of skateboarding, Haizlip was at one time in danger of falling over the edge but now he stands to do damage of a different sort, as a pastor reaching out to today's youth.
The first time Jay can remember being drunk was somewhere around five-years-old, by the time he was 11, alcohol had turned into drugs and he was getting high on a regular basis. By the age of thirteen Jay was on the streets selling drugs.
Around that same time however something happened that would impact Jay's life forever, he received a skateboard for Christmas. It quickly became apparent that the young Haizlip was a natural. He began to make ramps, skate ditches, and pools quickly gaining respect in the fledging industry. With a few contest wins under his belt he quickly became sponsored by companies like G&S, Alva Skates, Steve Olson Skates (AKA S.O.S), and Vision. Routinely appearing in magazines like Thrasher and Skateboarding (now known as Transworld), Jay was known for his aggressive pool skating.
"I was always pushing things to the edge as far as I could without slamming." he says. Sporting contemporaries such as Tony Alva, Steve Olson, Jay recounts many instances of "guerilla" pool sessions, when a group of skaters would sneak into a backyard, drain and skate the pool.
On the surface, Jay's life appeared to be a dream, appearing on the covers of magazines, music videos and print ads, but behind the hype lay a darker core. "Things weren't so great" Jay says, "I was living in Newport Beach, Calif. And there was a model that lived down the beach from me. We became friends and she turned me on to the first line of cocaine I ever snorted."
That first line began a twelve-year streak as a junkie, leaving Jay strung out and existing from one fix to the next. As bad as you can get and still be alive constantly in misery.
"All I cared about was living for the moment, punk rock, rockabilly shows, cocaine, skating, and surfing." he says.
Jay later described his life at that time as out of control.
"I reached the point where I was in constant torment whether I was high or not."
A desperate Jay soon ended up in Alabama. Attempting to run from the problem, he only ended up in the same situation there. It was at that time that Jay's luck ran out and he was sentenced to serve two years in prison as a result of a drug arrest for holding two pounds of pot.
The next few years were mainly spent in various attempts to rid himself of the specter of drugs and the lifestyle that he was increasingly becoming trapped in. Jay says that at this time he was frequently depressed contemplating suicide often.
"Looking back on it now, God was intervening in my life even before I knew Him." he says, "I placed myself in twelve step programs and treatment centers. Only to end up returning to the same lifestyle time and time again."
At a particularly low point after a three-day bender on crack cocaine, Jay reached a moment of clarity.
"I believed God was real even though I didn't grow up going to church or reading the Bible. But I knew if He was real, He was going to help me. I sat on the edge of my bed and looked up at the ceiling and cried out to God, "If you're real, why don't you help me? You know I don't want to be like this!"
A short time later while on route to buy still more crack cocaine, Jay says a man that he feels God put in his path shared Jesus with him.
"As I was talking to this guy, all of a sudden I heard myself asking him, "How do I become a Christian?" He opened his Bible to Romans 10:8-9, read it to me and lead me in a prayer to ask Jesus to take over."
Almost immediately Jay answered the call to preach and in 1990 he returned to the housing projects where in years past he had scored cocaine on so many occasions with a new agenda, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Since that time, Jay has traveled all across the United States and the rest of the world speaking in churches, doing school assemblies, and city wide alternative parties. Jay's stops have included Haiti, Jamaica, England, Indonesia, Malaysia and more. Jay says his heart longs to see real revival come to the church of America.
Not content to rest on what God has given him, Jay continues skateboarding and being a part of the current youth scene in addition to his role as senior pastor at The Sanctuary Church in Huntington Beach, CA. His current sponsors include: Hosoi Skates, Blak Flag Choppers, and Lift Clothing.
"I think the future is ministry" says Jay, "I believe that God is going to use this ministry to fan a flame in the youth culture to creat a youth revolution.