Founded in Cronulla, Australia, Christian Surfers International is an interdenominational mission movement seeking to share the gospel and Jesus’ love with the global surfing community. Christian Surfers International works in over 25 different countries worldwide including the United States. Besides evangelism, Christian Surfers International (CSI) commits its time, efforts, and faith to the surfing community, serves communities with faith initiatives such as hosting surfing competitions with CSF (Christian Surfing Federation) and partnering with LRO (Life Rolls On) to bring surfing experiences to paraplegics and quadriplegics. Even more recently, CSI was engaged in tsunami relief in Japan. Different chapters all over the world provide aid to those in need, and also chaplaincy to the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour. As if that’s not enough, CSI also puts on surf competitions, surf camps, and runs missions.
In 2008, CSI published The Surfer’s Bible, complete with testimonies of well-known Christians surfers who radically love God. Some of those surfers included Bethany Hamilton, CJ & Damien Hobgood, Tim Curren, and legendary surfboard shaper Al Merrick. Eventually CSI made its way to the United States and has flourished ever since. It now has 25 local chapters throughout the U.S. and 47 internationally. CSI seeks to bring Christ to the surfing community worldwide and wants to see every surfer in the United States connected to Jesus. They intend to achieve this mission by awakening surfing Christians to spiritual awareness and mobilizing them to become active in the mission. Many surf spots worldwide are known for being territorial, cliquish, and exclusive in nature. This involves blocking waves from outsiders or even breaking their boards if they happen to get in a local’s way. There seems to be an ever-present spirit of pride and entitlement that comes with a good surf location. The problem with this is that it stands against everything Christianity is about. By simply allowing others to take a wave before you or being willing to give a smile and talk to someone in the water, is, in many instances, counter-cultural to the surfing community. CSI also seeks to change this by reflecting Christ in how they act in the water as well as on dry land.
“These surfers found a way to incorporate Christ in the thing they love to do most. They found a way to incorporate Christ into their sphere of influence.”
After serving as a surf missionary in Hawaii and Indonesia, I returned home to California in search of a similar Christian community. Having heard of this organization prior, I simply did a Google search on my computer, easily found my city’s local chapter, and was put in touch with the director. After a phone call and invitation, I found myself in the midst of Jesus-loving surfers. They provided a positive mentoring and learning environment where I was free to be myself and learn more about the Bible. They held weekly bible studies, regular cookouts, and even hosted various social action initiatives like beach clean-ups and volunteering for Life Rolls On (a paraplegic/quadriplegic surfing program). My search to find other surfers who had the same heart for God started out as a mere need to find others that were like-minded in the surfing community, but what grew out of it became something much more and something I never expected. I now have life-long friends, accountability partners, and memories that will last a lifetime.
I’ve had the privilege and honor to be a member of this organization and participate in events such as beach clean-ups, movie debuts, Surf-a-thons, volunteer aid for accident victims who have been paralyzed and want to surf, the opening of a surf museum, and Christian surfer camps. This organization is community minded and looks to serve wherever possible. The people all over the world that make up this organization are the backbone by which others can see what true godly love looks like. If you live near a beach and would love a community of believers, look no further. Even if you’ve never surfed before in your life and you’d like to learn, these people will accept you with open arms. There are few places in this world a man can walk into a new place and feel welcomed, but CSI has created just that. If you happen to live too far away from a beach, that’s okay too. CSI’s resources are still available to you as well, and anyone can help spread the word about this organization and its cause. You can find out more about them at www.christiansurfers.net. You can sign up for a weekly devotional even if you’re inland.
These surfers found a way to incorporate Christ in the thing they love to do most. They found a way to incorporate Christ into their sphere of influence. Christ can use your passions to glorify him, you just have to find a way. Simply ask yourself today, “What are my passions?” Then follow up that question with, “How can I incorporate those giftings to also reach others for Christ?” Get creative and simply ask God for ideas. Even though I knew I was called to ministry, I never thought that one day my love for surfing might be a vehicle by which others would see God’s love. We are all wired differently with different likes and passions, the question is: how will you use yours?