Over the past couple years our international office has been slowly transitioning as founder and former International Director Brett Davis has stepped aside and Roy Harley has taken on the leadership of our international movement. As a part of this transition, a new international office is opening in Roy's adopted home of Jeffreys Bay in South Africa. Alongside Roy will be his PA Janine Rijnvis and our brand new Operations Manager Casey Cruciano. After over 11 years of service with CSUS, Casey, his wife Jennifer, and their two children, Ezra and Caris, will be making the huge move from the East Coast of the US to South Africa. Read on as we get to know the Cruciano's...
So Casey, you've been hired as the new CSI Operations Manager. Do you have any idea what you're in for?
Hopefully some surf lessons from my co-workers at the CSI office in J-Bay. Stoked to be joining the team of true Gospel servants to reach surfers around the world.
More than just a change in job, the role is requiring your whole family to move 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?
First off, no "yum yum yellow" boards for me! But really, from the moment this position was announced, the Lord has led us through so many circumstances and given us so much confirmation that this is where he called us next. While there is some trepidation about safety, culture adjustment for us and our kids, finances, etc., we are standing firm on the knowledge that we are where He wants us.
You've both worked for CSUS in different capacities for over 10 years now, how are feeling about moving on?
We've been full-time staff with CSUS for 11 years now, and I was a chapter director, core leader, and general chapter grom before that. CSUS has been nearly my entire life in ministry, so yeah, this is a big change. We have been so blessed by the leadership of Dean Plumlee and Chandler Brownlee before him, each of them challenging us deeper both professionally and in our time with the Lord. We are really psyched to work alongside Roy, his enthusiasm for the mission is infectious, you can't help but catch his vision for where the ministry could be in the next few years.
What are you most looking forward to about working with Christian Surfers International and what do you foresee the role entailing?
I'm looking forward to working closely with the International Director, to see he and the board's vision carried out across the world. This includes helping to organize conferences, creating ministry resources, and interacting with the global community to hear what's working to reach surfers. I'm also excited to see Brett move into his Founder/Adviser role, as it's been so impactful to me to see him finish well with the International Director position.
I've been attending CSI conferences since 2004, and what's always struck me is this unique bond of like-minded believers using surfing to reach their communities. Whether it's Australia or Portugal or Thailand, we're all doing the same thing - sharing Christ with our tribe.
We're also really looking forward to getting to know the international leaders better. The time we have spent with them has been great - so many talented, Godly, surf stoked leaders. It's going to be awesome to hear stories from their parts of the globe, and how disciple-making works differently dependent on their culture.
Out of your years of service with Christian Surfers what do you feel has been the most impactful moment or story for your own faith?
Jen: In our first year of ministry, during the holidays, the finances were not going well. We had reached a point where we didn't know how to pay a stack of bills lying on our kitchen table, the credit card limits were already reached and the savings at zero. We thought maybe we could put off our tithes and offering for a few months and catch up when things got better. After a short discussion we decided that was not an option and drew what little left over in our account and gave that to the Lord. Within 48 hours a check appeared that was what we needed to pay all the current bills, He was truly our Jehovah Jireh, our provider, and continues to be every day.
Casey: About five years ago, a small group of surfers started studying the life of Jesus in depth. We drew a lot of inspiration from this time, but one thing stands out above the rest - how Jesus invested so much time with the few. He only had a public ministry for 3 years, so why not try to reach huge audiences each time? While that may have proved more quick conversions, the only way to reach the entire human population was by impacting a small group more deeply. In my own life I'm trying to reach people through relationships rather than programs.
How did you initially get in to surfing? Do you surf as well Jen?
Casey: Like most surfers my dad taught me. Unlike most surfers I really hated it at first - cold water, waves were always too big. The only thing I enjoyed was when it was flat, then we would go to breakfast instead of surf. After a few years, though, I finally got on a bigger board and started riding waves and that changed my outlook entirely - this surfing thing was actually fun! Next thing you know I'm dragging my pops out of bed at 5AM, getting him coffee, strapping down boards, fully hooked (I think that was his plan all along).
Jen: I do surf but not as often as he does. Casey taught me how to surf, but I really started enjoying it more when the girls in our chapter got together weekly. Now, it's really fun to watch our son (Ezra, age 7) and daughter (Caris, age 5) as they are learning from their dad.
That's handy because their dad shreds! Be honest - was Supertubes part of the appeal of the job Casey?
It certainly has been a dream of mine to surf that wave since I saw it in the magazines. I am really looking forward to seeing the WSL event live and interacting with all the nationalities in the water that visit there. With the Mick Fanning incident, however, it's been really interesting to hear our support team members' responses to our news. They are all really excited for us but a few of them have asked me to promise them not to surf at dusk or dawn.
Our International Conference is coming around real soon, right around the time you move into your role. You mentioned it briefly earlier, but how important have the conferences been to your time with Christian Surfers?
It's incredibly important to fellowship with the body of Christian Surfers. We have been tasked with reaching the world surf community and we can't do it alone! If you are on the fence about coming to Australia, you probably need to come more than anyone. There's even scholarships available, so don't let funding be the thing that holds you back.
Moving your whole family to a new country comes with a lot of costs. Are there ways that people can help support you through the move or even in an ongoing capacity?
We have a wonderful support team that has stood beside us during our 11 years in full-time ministry. But because of the increased "one-off" costs of relocating, we have set up a website specifically for that purpose. Our goal is to raise those funds up front before we move, so that while in Africa we aren't needing to go back and ask for additional support for each new expense.
Thanks guys, we'll be praying for you throughout the move and as you continue in the role!
Support the Cruciano family in their big move here: https://fundly.com/christian-surfers-cruciano-family-africa-relocation-fund