Meet Zach & Dani Smith

Born out of the natural heart of many CS missions for social action, Groundswell Aid is an initiative of Christian Surfers that seeks to to harness the resources of the surfing community to impact the global community with God's love. Zach & Dani Smith were recently hired to head up Groundswell Aid out of the Christian Surfers International head office in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

So Zach and Dani, you've been hired to run Groundswell Aid. How did you get involved?

We initially inquired about being the house parents for the CSALT program in J-Bay but the start date was going to be challenging to sort out due to Zach's work. Roy Harley reached out to us and asked how we felt about coming to J-Bay to run with Groundswell Aid instead and described it as, "social justice/community development meets Jesus and surfers." We knew it was what we'd been waiting for!

More than just a change in job, the role required you to move from Atlanta, Georgia to South Africa, a less-than-stable country that also includes plenty of less-than-friendly ocean activity. How do you both feel about that?

We're no strangers to South Africa. Zach worked in J-Bay from 2010-2014 and after getting engaged in 2014, we both lived in J-Bay and got married that year on the beach in front of Supertubes. We consider ourselves very lucky that God has called us to such a beautiful and diverse place. And we consider the ocean animals our friends. :)

You're both new to Christian Surfers. What were you doing before Groundswell?

Dani: After graduating from university, I worked in Cambodia for two years teaching at an international school and doing church planting in a village about an our from the city. It was a very difficult decision to leave but felt that God wanted me to learn about helping in a more systematic way. I moved to Denver and spent the next two years working with the homeless population in Colorado and Texas. After realizing that my work there would never take me back to overseas missions, I returned to university to get my Masters in Bilingual Education, hoping it would open up opportunities for long-term work abroad. It was then that Zach and I reconnected and I finished my schooling while living in South Africa. After getting married, we returned to Zach's hometown in Atlanta to pay off my student loan and I worked for two years at our local church.

Zach: Since high school, I've worked on and off for my family's business in training professional and Olympic athletes. It's given me a unique opportunity to build relationships with an insider community, many of whom are seen as role models in our culture. It's also opened up doors for me to live in China and work at their national training center in Beijing. I've worked in the townships of South Africa running an after school program and more recently a soccer league. 


What are you most looking forward to about working with Groundswell and what do you foresee the role entailing?

We both really want to spend this year serving people in whatever way is most helpful, knowing it will look different for each project and each country. Roy has inspired us with a vision of what Groundswell could be so we want to spend our first months on the ground connecting with the amazing leaders who are already engaged with social justice projects in their area and discuss how we can help them go further, faster. We've also already connected with one "Corporate Partner" and are excited about the possibility of partnering with more organizations around the world who are equally stoked about reaching surfers and making much of Jesus's name. 

Out of your years of service in ministry, what do you feel has been the most impactful moment or story for your own faith?

Dani: I remember walking down the street where I lived in Cambodia and praying that God wouldn't change anything in my life. I felt like my cup was completely full of blessings; I had amazing friends, was loving being undivided in my devotion to the Lord as a single person, thought I had the best job on the planet and loved discipling my students, was living very simply but had every need met. Later that year, God flipped everything upside down and stripped all of that away to take me somewhere new. He didn't have less for me, but more. I learned to never think that my idea of blessings are the same as the Lord's. He gives us perfect gifts just when we need them and the richest blessing of them all is always deeper intimacy with the Father.

Zach: After finishing my Masters degree, I took a year and a half to see what God was up to around the world, specifically to live out James 1:27. It was a crazy year. I met some great people, experienced God's beauty through His creation, saw God come through time and time again, and yet I witnessed abject poverty of the likes I had never seen. From the biggest slum in Africa to earthquake-torn Haiti, from AIDS infected special needs children in Kenya, to street kids in Brazil, from severely sexually abused girls in Honduras, to orphans in Mexico, and many more. God continuously broke my heart and taught me through and among these people. Along the way, I was climbing some of the world's highest mountains, and ministering to backpackers too! Get someone in a tent on the side of the mountain and they'll let you talk about anything to fend off boredom.

How did you both initially get in to surfing?

Zach: My dad grew up a surfer and we had a family beach house in the Outer Banks. While I was landlocked growing up in Atlanta, we spent our summers and every other chance we got in OBX. 

Dani: Zach started giving me lessons a couple of years ago and gave me a fuchsia single fin long board as my wedding gift. He always says that the best surfer is the one having the most fun so if that's true, I'm getting pretty good. ;)

Thanks guys, we'll be praying for you throughout the move and as you continue in the role!

To learn more about Groundswell Aid, check out the website and follow on Instagram and Facebook.

Americas Conference Scholarships

The Americas Conference is a gathering of leaders from throughout Latin America, held biannually in the region. This year the conference will be held in Panama, July 25-28, and we're hoping to enable a handful of leaders to make it there! Below are profiles of some of the leaders. If you feel so led, we would love for you to donate towards seeing more leaders in Latin America equipped to lead and disciple surfers!

All donations are through Christian Surfers North America and are tax deductible.

Franco Bachino


Franco Bachino is 26 years old. He is recently married and is presently the National Director of CS Uruguay. Franco needs to raise USD$450 to be able to attend the Americas Conference.


José Alonso Alta


José Alonso Alta is 23 years old, currently the youngest leader in CS Peru. He is a university student, studying Mechanical Engineering. José needs to raise USD$450 to be able to attend.


Alex Suarez


Alex Suarez is 17 years old from Manglaralto, South Montañita, Ecuador. He has surfed in two ISA World Junior Championships on the Ecuadorian team and is currently the national U18 champion and second place in the Opens. This year he successfully finished high school and his plans for the future include focusing on his professional surfing career and studying architecture. He is an active member of CS Montañita, with leadership projection, since May 2015. This would be his first CS conference. Alex needs to raise USD$450 to be able to attend.


NZ Easter Camp

by Logan Mills
(Español debajo)

This year we had just over 100 people join us in Taranaki for our annual Easter Camp. The week leading up to camp, NZ was forecast to have one of the biggest cyclones to hit since the 60’s. It was meant to start down the east coast then come across to the west coast right where our camp was going to be held.

Last minute we had people pulling out as we had extreme warnings that it was not safe to travel, so the CS team began to pray that the cyclone would miss us. Thursday night came and that’s when it was meant to hit the hardest, I traveled down to Taranaki and it was blue skies and the sun was shining, so far so good! The west coast was firing! the whole way down there were lines coming in with no wind! I got to the camp site and the marquee hire company didn’t want to put the marquee up with the cyclone coming. We had faith it could still go ahead and continued to pray that the storm would not come our way.

God sure did answer our prayers! Cyclone Cook ended up redirecting itself and staying just off the east coast of NZ. Praise the Lord! We had high winds and some flooding down some parts of the east coast but nowhere near what was predicted. Camp was going ahead as planned!

Each evening we had a time of worship and our guest speakers Daz Chattle & Peter Dobbs sharing with us, 10+ people gave their lives to the Lord, some rededicated their lives back to the Lord and many encountered the Holy Spirit and were healed spiritually.

We were all inspired with the words, "What if Jesus is real and what he said is true?” how does that affect our day to day lives? Daz told us many amazing stories of how God has used him to bring people to faith on the street, plane, in the surf, we were all challenged and inspired to really live like its all true! 

We ran a skate comp for the community at the local Shred Shed. The majority of the skaters in the competition were locals, it was awesome to get involved and serve in the community. We also ran a fun surf comp on the beach break right in front of the camp. It was great to have surfers of all levels involved and giving it a go!

With Cyclone Cook missing us we had a lot of people flocking to the east coast to score waves, which meant we had the west coast almost empty. During the days we would disperse to find waves and the last two days of camp we had multiple points to ourselves with only people from our crew in the water! We all had an amazing time hooting and calling each other in to waves. Thanks Lord!

It was great for me to be able to meet all the CS crews from all over NZ, me being fairly new to CS it was an awesome chance to get to know everyone and hear what’s happening in their different regions. It’s always so encouraging to meet other people who share your passions for surfing and sharing Jesus.

God is so good, He totally hears our prayers and knows what’s best for us. Massive thanks to everyone who braved it out and came along. Thanks also to all those who were involved in the background and making camp happen.

How would we live if we really believe and lived out what Jesus taught us? 

Este año mas de 100 personas fueron parte de nuestro campamento anual de semana santa. La semana antes del campamento, el pronostico para NZ marcaba la llegada de uno de los ciclones mas fuertes en 50 años. Se supone que empezaría en la costa este y después cruzaría a la costa oeste donde nuestro campamento se iba llevar a cabo.

A ultimo minuto teníamos personas cancelando debido a los reportes que era inseguro para viajar, entonces el equipo CS empezó a orar que el ciclón no nos afectara. Jueves en la noche se supone que iba ser mas intenso. Ese día viaje a Taranaki y estaba con sol y cielo azul así que hasta ahí todo bien. La costa oeste estaba con buenas olas. Todo el camino se veía como entraban las líneas y sin viento. Llegue al campamento y la empresa que nos arriendaba una carpa no la quería armar por temor a que llegara el ciclón. Teníamos fe que igual podría resultar y continuamos orando que la tormenta no llegara a nosotros.

Dios respondió a nuestras oraciones! Ciclón Cook termino solo afectando la costa Este de NZ ¡Gloria a Dios! Hubieron vientos fuertes y un poco de inundación pero el impacto fue mucho menor de lo que se pensaba. El campamento se llevo a cabo en acorde al plan. Cada noche tuvimos un tiempo de alabanza y a nuestros expositores invitados Daz Chattle y Peter Dobs compartiendo con nosotros; 10+ personas entregaron su vida a Cristo, algunos re dedicaron sus vidas a Dios y muchos tuvieron un encuentro con el Espíritu Santo y fueron sanados espiritualmente.

Todos fuimos inspirados por estas palabras; “¿Que pasa si Jesús es real y lo que el dijo verdadero?” ¿Cómo eso afecta nuestras vidas? Daz nos contó historias increíbles de cómo Dios lo ha usado para acercar a personas a Cristo en la calle, en aviones, y en el mar. Fuimos desafiados y inspirados a vivir como si todo eso es real. 

Organizamos un campeonato de skate para la comunidad local en el Shred Shed. La mayoría de los skater en la competencia eran locales, fue genial involucrarse con ellos y servir la comunidad. También organizamos un campeonato de surf divertido en el beach break que estaba al frente del campamento. Era genial tener a surfistas de todos los niveles involucrados y dando su mejor esfuerzo.

Ya que Ciclón Cook fue desviado, muchos estaban buscando olas en la costa este así que la costa oeste estaba casi vacía para nosotros. Durante esos días nos dispersábamos a buscar olas y los últimos dos días de campamento teníamos varias puntas solo para nosotros. Todos la pasamos increíble disfrutando esas olas sin gente ¡Gracias Dios!

Fue genial para mi conocer a la gente de CS de diferentes partes de NZ, ya que yo soy bastante nuevo a CS y fue genial escuchar lo que esta pasando en las diferentes regiones. Siempre es genial conocer a personas que comparten una pasión por el surf y por compartir a otros de Jesús.

Dios es bueno, el escucha nuestras oraciones y tiene lo mejor para nosotros. Muchas gracias a todos quienes fueron valientes y participaron. También agradecemos a todos los que ayudaron en la organización.

¿Como deberíamos vivir si realmente creemos y vivimos lo que Jesús nos enseñó?

Margaret River Pro Service Team 2017

by Terry Bowdler
(Español debajo)

This year at the Margaret River Pro we had a great team combined of Christian Surfers and YWAM CS 4WD DTS with a team of approximately 15 people.

Right away we arrived a day early to a well set up event site organized by Surfing WA and their hired work crews. We came in as we have in previous years and helped in the final set up of banners, arranging rubbish bins, cleaned windows for judges and various other tasks. We were actually welcomed quite warmly by the work crews which we have gotten to know more of each year. They were stoked to have us back again. From day one of the event the event commentators were thanking us publicly for the services we were doing around the event.

A few days in and after handing out the event programs we noticed there was for the first time ever a public recognition and thanks in the programs and on a local sponsors sign that said thank you to Christian Surfers! This to me not only acknowledged each previous year's work but also gave us favour and authority to be there again as a CS Service team. I believe God really opened up new doors this year.

We loved all the valuable relationships we built with people feeling like we were truly making life long friends. The team did a great job caring for people like the security guards, work crew, and coordinators. We truly were there to give and to love, not to take. As a result we were entrusted with even more responsibilities.

The highlights of the event were also the quality of the waves on display and the high level of surfing that was demonstrated. Massive waves brought lots of spectators and media attention to the event and still the event went on without a hitch.

At the end of the event we were invited to a thank you/farewell dinner for the staff and the main guy in charge of running the event gave a big thank you to all those there who helped and contributed to such a well run event. He said this was the best run surf event he had ever been a part of. We again felt so grateful to be part of the service at this event and grateful each year for the way Surfing WA takes care of us. The event was over and run so well. We said our goodbyes to our many friends and look forward to another great event in the future.

Este año en el Margaret River Pro tuvimos un gran equipo con Christian Surfers junto a YWAM CS 4WD DTS que llevo un grupo de 15 personas.

Inmediatamente llegamos a un evento bien armado organizado por Surfing WA y su equipo. Llegamos igual que años anteriores y ayudamos armar los pendones, sacar la basura, limpiar las ventanas para los jueces y varias otras tareas. En realidad nos dieron una muybuena bienvenida el equipo ahí, cada año los estamos conociendo mejor. Estaban felices de tenernos devuelta. Desde el primer día los organizadores del evento nos estaban agradeciendo públicamente por lo que estábamos haciendo en el evento. 

Después de unos días, cuando estábamos entregando programas del evento nos dimos cuenta que por primera ves hubo un reconocimiento publico y agradecimiento con un letrero ¡agradeciendo nuestro trabajo como Christian Surfers! Eso era un reconocimiento por los años anteriores pero también nos dio favor y autoridad para estar ahí otra vez como equipo de servicio CS. Creo que Dios realmente abro una puerta este año.

Amamos todas las relaciones valorables que hemos construido con personas y sentimos que hemos hecho amistades que duraran toda la vida. El equipo hizo un gran trabajo de preocuparse de personas como los guardias de seguridad, el equipo de trabajo, y coordinadores. Realmente estábamos ahí para entregar amor, no quitar. Como resultado se nos fue encomendado aun mas responsabilidades.

Otros aspectos notables del evento eran la calidad de las olas y el alto nivel de surfing que se vio. Las olas grandes atrajeron gran numero de espectadores y de prensa al evento y aun asi todo salió en acuerdo al plan.

Al final del evento se nos invito a una cena de despedida/agradecimiento para el staff y el encargado del evento agradeció a todos los que ayudaron. Dijo que era el evento de surf mejor coordinado del que había sido parte. Nos sentimos muy agradecidos de ser parte de ese evento y de cómo Surfing WA ha cuidado de nosotros. El evento termino muy bien. Nos despedimos de nuestros nuevos amigos y esperamos buenos tiempos juntos en el futuro.

Thailand Grom Comp

by Tim Campbell
(Español debajo)

Given that most of the surfers in Thailand are adults, with very few grommets coming up through the ranks, earlier in the season CST realised the opportunity to sow into the kids and to really encourage them to pursue their surfing. So we planned to run the first ever surf contest on Phuket’s Bangtao Beach, but for under 15’s only. We had crew bring groups of kids from four different areas of Thailand, including an island near Myanmar, which was a massive adventure for the small group of sea gypsy children, one of whom went home the winner of a brand new surfboard! It blessed us to see the coming together of the next generation of Thai surfers (many already being discipled by Jesus followers), and also to see the local surf community come out to support the kids by way of judging, spectating, donating prizes and for them to witness CS in action. Our MC for the day from the local church did an excellent job opening the contest in prayer and engaging the kids constantly throughout the day. There were lots of nervous kids as it was the first contest most of them had ever seen or been to and the first time they'd surfed with anyone from other villages, we were very proud of them all for having a go!

En Tailandia hay muy pocos niños que están surfeando, la mayoría son adultos, CST reconoció una gran oportunidad de sembrar en la vida de estos niños y animarlos en su surf. Planeamos el primer evento de surf en la playa Bangtao en Phuket, pero solo para menores de 15 años. Los chicos llevaron grupos de niños de diferentes zonas incluyendo la isla de Myanmar, que es una gran aventura para un grupo de gitanos del océano, uno de ellos volvió a casa ganador ¡con una tabla de surf nueva! Nos bendijo ver la próxima generación surfistas Tailandeses reunidos (varios ya están siendo discipulado por seguidores de Jesús), también ver la comunidad de surf local presente apoyando a los niños como jueces, espectadores, donando premios y ver a CS en acción. Nuestro locutor ese dia era de la iglesia local y hizo un trabajo espectacular iniciando la competencia con oración y interactuando con los niños constantemente durante el día. Habían muchos niños nerviosos ya que era su primer campeonato y para muchos era la primera vez que surfeaban con chicos de otras aldeas ¡estábamos muy orgullosos de ellos por su esfuerzo!