Surfing as Mission
Jennifer Veldman, FMWM Mobilization Assistant
You have likely heard that Free Methodist World Missions sends missionaries to develop leaders, plant churches, care for medical needs, teach English and help with compassion and community development programs. But have you heard that we recently sent our first surfing missionaries? How do surfing and missions connect? Very well, as it turns out.
Dennis Leon is a native Costa Rican and a local surfing celebrity in the coastal community where he and his family of four now live and minister. His wife, Kyle, is originally from Santa Barbara, CA. Together they lead two church plants, mentor teen boys and work with Christian Surfers International to meet people on the beach and talk to them about Jesus.
Why is this type of ministry so vital to evangelism in Costa Rica’s coastal villages? Due to the influx of tourists, foreigners and money to Costa Rica’s beach communities, these villages have become “sin cities” where prostitution, violence and drug abuse are the norm. Already-existing churches in these communities have not been able to make a significant impact.
The Leons’ strategy involves ministry to those who live in the area, as well as those who come to the beach for weekend getaways. They have made a significant number of contacts from the capital, San Jose. They’ve mentored several local boys who’ve seen by the Leons’ example what loving Jesus looks like when lived out day to day and in the context of a family relationship. As a result, some of the boys have become Christians and whole families have been transformed through this ministry.
In 2009, the Leons were sent from the Santa Barbara FMC to begin ministry in Costa Rica as volunteers through VISA Ministries. Then, in 2011, they were approved as FMWM extended-term missionaries with plans to pursue their passion for ministry long-term. The Free Methodist Church can now add surfing as a mission strategy because God can use a person’s complete list of interests, talents and abilities in His service to draw more people to Him.
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