In Wahiawa, one of the poorest areas on the island of Oahu, a group of Christian surfers is transforming their part of the community. Working through a nonprofit called Surfing the Nations, they have replaced a porn shop, liquor store and brothel with a coffee bar, antique shop and meeting room, home of the Surfer’s Church. Neighboring apartment buildings have also been renovated.
Surfing the Nations (StN), founded by long time surfer and associate minister Tom Bauer in 1997, is a non-religious non-profit organization with the motto “Surfers giving back”. Sensitive to the fact that surfers are commonly associated with “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” rather than social good, Bauer wanted a group that would help change that image at home and abroad. To this end, in addition to the work that StN is doing at home, it is active in many countries worldwide, “anywhere with a surf” as Bauer chuckles.
Volunteers from all over the world work with StN in periods ranging from a few days to two years. The youth choir from our church, the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia, volunteered in late June, 2013. Jens, a furniture carpenter and wood shop teacher from Sweden, brought his family for one month for their family vacation. California was well represented among volunteers, and our east coast kids’ vocabulary soon included “gnarly” and “stoked”. No one at StN, not even Tom Bauer and his wife Cindy, is paid. Everyone pays their own way, receives their support from home churches, or gets income from StN’s weekly visits to the local swap meet.
StN volunteers renovate buildings, clean trash, landscape, teach Bible truths, host kids carnivals, and serve their community in many other ways. Every Thursday a team goes to the First Samoan Assembly of God under the H1 highway in Honolulu to feed malnourished locals. When our team was there, 650 persons received free and healthy foods, including fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables. It is the largest regular food distribution on Oahu.
All is not work, however. StN volunteers teach surfing if they know it and learn surfing if they do not. Then they become teachers for new volunteers and for those they encounter on StNs mission trips abroad. Puena Point near Haleiwa is an outstanding bay for teaching aspiring surfers. From our group young and old, skilled and not so skilled took to the surf and had a great time.
Surfing the Nations is a non religious non-profit run by Christians for the betterment for Hawaii, and for all those they touch. It combines adventure and service, and is a sterling example of “surfers giving back”. Visit them at http://surfingthenations.com/.