by Janine Rijnvis
Serving at this year's J-Bay Open was certainly different to any other year. No-one could have prepared us for what was to happen in the finals, but the Lord knew, and He laid it on our hearts to pray every morning for the safety and projection of the surfers and water patrol. At 6am every morning, while it was still dark, our team would meet on the boardwalk to encourage one another and to pray, not only for the surfers, but for everyone involved with the J-Bay Open, from the WSL officials to the ground crew; and that the Lord will grant us opportunities to speak of Jesus.
Some of our team came all the way from Cape Town to serve at this event. After prayer in the mornings we had our designated areas sorted and ready for the day. We made sure that each area was clean, the coffee was fresh, snacks were there for the taking and that breakfast was available for those that couldn't make it to the breakfast area. We'd meet around the breakfast table and fellowship, either with each other or members of the WSL, other crew and even the surfers.
As it was a long waiting period, on "Go" days we were constantly busy, serving lunch to officials, carrying and fetching, tidying, serving VIP's, etc. On "lay days" we basically did the same in the mornings, as some officials still stayed and worked, but we could then leave for the day.
All that can be said about the day of the finals is that it was a shocker. Many of us saw the shark encounter with Mick Fanning as it happened, expecting to see blood. It was the most horrific, surreal experience. Reports from the grandstand was that people were praying out loud.
After everything had settled, Mick and Julian were ok and the commissioners called off the rest of the contest, our team gathered together again and gave God thanks for His mercy and protection over Mick and even the water photographers and water patrol guys, and we prayed for Mick's wellbeing in his mind as we knew this encounter would wreak havoc in his thoughts.
So yes, this year's Jbay Open was very different indie, and at next year's event we will continue to pray for safety and protection for everyone in the water!