The weekend of May 15-17, 2015 saw around forty-five Christian Surfers leaders from nine different countries (plus some visiting Aussie friends) meet together in the beautiful area of Hossegor in Southwest France.
For over ten years this gathering has been held as a way of connecting the leaders from throughout the ministry in Europe, in order to encourage each other, think of ways in which we can work together as a team, worship, hang out, get to know each other better and hopefully get some waves.
The theme for the gathering this year was "Working together, achieving more" and was based on Luke 10:2, "He told them 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers a few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers, into his harvest field.'"
Waves for the duration were not fantastic, but whenever you have such a great bunch of surfers from so many countries it adds to the fun, and Saturday afternoon, along with the early mornings, proved that was the case.
We met at the same pace that we had the significant 2004 Christian Surfers International Conference and this year there were representatives from North Africa, Portugal, Spain (including Canary Islands) France, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Holland and Norway. It was also good to have Christian Surfers Resources Manager Mike Croft and his wife Trish visiting from Australia.
After introductions, sharing, praise, worship and getting to know each other on Friday night, the Saturday morning session consisted of the team being updated on the Christian Surfers International Leadership Team gathering, who had met the week before in Sydney. CS Europe Regional Coordinator Phil Williams was part of that team where they reflected on the current mission, vision and core strategies for Christian Surfers and began to craft some slightly revised versions.
Whilst the country leaders met and talked this through, those less experienced or visiting for the first time were led through the Foundations Training fundamentals module by Johnny Hillman. Both sessions were found to be very useful.
After a good Saturday afternoon in the sunshine enjoying a few waves (and ice cream), Saturday night consisted of feeding back from the countries and praying for the teams involved. Whilst a long evening, this was a really encouraging time and a great opportunity to invite some of the Christian Surfers France crew and Surf Church in Hossegor, who had not been involved up until now.
One of the highlights of sharing back focused on the European tour with blind surfer Derek Rabelo and his movie Beyond Sight. This was a fantastic example of partnership as the coordination of the movie by Phil and the team meant fourteen showings in eight different countries. All responses were very positive, and a legacy of new relationships and a strong desire to show the movie throughout the rest of the country was felt.
Sunday morning consisted of communion and planning for the year ahead and also confirmation that the 2016 CS Europe Leaders Gathering will move countries and be hosted not far from Lisbon on the coast in late September (to avoid clashing with the CS International Conference in Australia in May.)
CS Europe RC Phil Williams said, "This weekend is always one of the highlights in the year for me, and I feel so privileged to be working with so many first-class leaders. It never ceases to amaze me how much God is working through these volunteers and others to make a difference in surfers lives throughout Europe."
Finally a big thank you to the CS France and Surf Church crew, as well as Mike and Trish Croft for doing so much preparatory work to enable the smooth running of the event.