GC3  - September 2012 Page 2 Image 0125Mel Clark, Director Christian Surfers NZ

Four years ago, I was an international policy consultant, wearing a business suit and flying to different countries to give advice to their governments. Now I wear a wetsuit to work, drive a rusty sand-filled car, and share the Gospel with a tribe of people who worship the ocean and have usually never set foot anywhere near a church building. They are called "surfers" and I direct an organisation called "Christian Surfers New Zealand" which provides a Christian presence and witness in the surfing community. It is a network of passionate followers of Jesus, ordinary surfers serving in their communities and letting God use them to do extraordinary things.

Surfers tend to be a hedonistic bunch, selfishly seeking the best waves, skipping work or school when the waves and wind, sandbanks and storms out at sea converge just right, and sacrificing time, money and relationships for "the perfect wave". With an estimated 200,000 surfers in New Zealand, not all of them fit the stereotypes you see in the media but the reality is that people surf on the weekends so most wouldn't dream of going into a church. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Romans 10: 13-15 NIV )

God calls us to go into all the nations and make disciples. God called me to "go" into the surfing community so that they might call on the name of Jesus. Christian Surfers has 20 local groups around the coast of NZ who run activities within their surfing communities: weekly meetings, surf camps, learn to surf coaching, competitions and outreach at secular events. We use surfing to serve in drug rehabilitation with teenagers, provide mentoring for young surfers and wanna-be surfers, provide drug and alcohol free surf events and opportunities where people can engage with the Bible, hear God's Word, hear testimonies and ask questions about Jesus from surfers who know Him.

Christian Surfers exists to evangelise the surfing community and serve the local church by providing a bridge between the church and the beach. We also provide a mission niche for surfers to use their skills and talents to advance the Kingdom. Each local mission is led by a team of leaders from supportive local churches and they partner with these churches for accountability, discipleship and support for running outreach amongst the surfing community in their areas.

Plenty of surfers end up at my house because they have been on a surf camp or met someone in Christian Surfers and end up in my neighbourhood. Some of them stay for a while, needing coffee or prayer, and some of them meet Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour. It is a world away from the career I had and from where I had planned my life to be by now but I could not imagine myself doing anything else. Every weekend the coast of New Zealand and the other 150
surfable nations around the world are filled with surfers who do not know Jesus. How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?!

Want to know more? Check out: www.christiansurfers.org.nz

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