Like most mornings I hop on my bicycle to get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of our town. Some days there is a route I take that leads me directly to the ocean. Today was one of those days, and when I entered the beach I noticed a group of young surfers. As I approached walking my bicycle down the pavement to the sandy beach. three of the surfers who were huddled together looked at me, just like a kid will look at an adult or parent who catches them doing something they should not be doing. I stood looking at two other surfers who had put down their boards and picked up a fishing pole. One had obviously caught something quite large at the end of his line which by the looks of it and the strength of his line and pole may have been a shark. Then for a brief moment I looked to my left and saw the other group walking away still very close together and then a large puff of smoke surrounded them. I knew at that moment exactly what it was. I myself used to smoke marijuana when I was their age. In fact I was quite the party girl. But we’ll save that for another blog. Anyway, back to the two surfers who were reeling in the shark, the one with the pole was working very hard. He was not very strong, had very thin arms and legs, but he was doing the best he could. Minutes later the large fish won the battle and took the boys hook with him.
Just before I hopped back on my bike for my journey home, I had the thought to talk to these locals, but felt because they did not “know” me like the local surfers do in Ponce, I quickly changed my mind. During my ride home I thought nothing more of it until I began cleaning our bathrooms which by the way need lots of bleach when you live in a humid climate! As I was scrubbing the tub and shower I began thinking about these young surfers. I began thinking how desperately we need God’s people (more appropriately Christians that love to surf) with a vision for the locals here in the town of Wilbur by the Sea and Ponce Inlet. I am aware of the throngs of surfers that come from all over to hit the waves at our jetty because I have been a professional surf photographer for nearly four years (my work has been published in “Locals Only Surf Magazine-May/June issue 2010 print issue). Even though I do not surf myself, I love photographing the art and sport of surfing.
Why am I compelled to reach this surf tribe and other locals? Our family moved to Ponce Inlet, FL back in 2003 and founded the first Christian church in the history of Ponce Inlet: Ponce Church. My husband Rick is the head pastor and I also pastor along side him. Our two boys 19 and 28 along with our beautiful daughter-in-law are active in and outside the church as well. We’re a very casual group. Rick wears shorts and flip flops when he teaches on Sunday mornings and most of the crowd dresses casual as well. We also have a coffee station with snacks every Sunday morning. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the refreshments even during the service. Like I said, we are very casual.
Some years ago the pastor of another church met with us for lunch and he liked our story and the fact that we started the first church here in Ponce. I could tell that he was quite comfortable with us. His church has a number of surfers that attend and because he too enjoys the surf I feel that he shared our vision (especially to reach the surfers in our town) and saw the dynamic of our location. He had met with his group (the board) and some of his people came to check us out. Well, I’d like to say that they shared the same passion and vision but I personally believe that they did not. A part of me believes that it may be because I am a woman pastor, and for some that will put the brakes on any vision because of religious beliefs and wrong interpretation of the scriptures (if you want to know what the Bible says about women read my blog “Woman Preach“). Let me stop here for a moment. I know that what I am about to say is going to step on some religious toes, but if you know me and have heard me preach, you know that that does not keep me from sharing what I believe is truth according to the Bible. I have been in full time ministry for over ten years. I have over the last 30 plus years of my Christian life preached the gospel here in the USA and have been on mission trips sharing God’s love in Mexico and Japan. I have shared about God’s amazing love with both men and women individually and in group settings. By God’s Grace, both genders have received Christ as I shared the gospel with them. I know as a pastor that it takes a vision from God himself to start up and continue a work. In the new testament God gave His ministers the vision to start churches and also to equip others to pastor and oversee the churches they started. God gives His ministers the vision for each local church, not the congregations (there were no church boards in the Bible) only those who supported the call and vision of the minister. He called His ministers to lead, not be told or advised by others whom God did not give the vision on how to govern His church. Look at the Apostle Paul for example, he was called to start churches and oversee them, not the congregation.
God has called our family to this town and now our sister church in Ormond Beach, Ormond Church founded and pastored by our oldest son and his wife to continue His work, sharing and demonstrating (Feeding the homeless Saturdays in Daytona Beach and housing age-out foster girls The Legacy House) the love of God in our communities. I understand what it takes to reach out to others with the gospel Jesus Christ and God’s love. It is my hope and prayer that God will speak to his people, more specifically his people that love to surf to grab the vision to preach Christ and share God’s amazing love with the locals here in our area. I believe that together we can reach this “tribe” of surfers with the gospel of the man who walked on water and gave his own life to save mankind!
If God is speaking to your heart to get involved and team up with Ponce Church to reach this generation of surfers, go to poncechurch.com and send us an email, or go to our Facebook page and message us there. For more surf photography go to “The Surf Life of Ponce Inlet” Facebook page. Thank you.
“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Mathew 9:36-38.