Jojo de Olivenca
I have always been fascinated by the sea. But I did not want to have anything to do with the Creator of the sea because I was ashamed of being a Christian. I thought I would become a nerd the very day I started living as a "bible nut". I thought I had to leave everything I loved behind like the girls, the parties and the crack and the marijuana.
Everyday was the same for me. I was never satisfied. Any joy I had was short lived. Soon I was back into my old boring life again.
My parents talked to me a lot about the gospel. That didn't ring a bell in me. I knew that there is a God but I had decided to think about Him only when I got old, very old! . . .
One day, when I was already a professional surfer, I visited my brother. He was recovering from drug-addiction in a specialized Christian recovery center, called Teen Challenge, in the city of Feira de Santana (Eastern Brazil). When I got there I saw this bunch of people with a changed look on their faces, like they had joy and peace that might rub off on you at any minute!
It was then that I got afraid of dying and go into eternity without God. I decided to turn my life over to Christ completely. I invited Him to come into my mind, my heart, my blood, everything! I got soaked in Jesus, man! I began reading the Bible and putting it into practice.
But I thought, "Man, these people will forbid me to do a lot of things, like going around without a shirt on my back, or go to the beach . . .!"
On the other hand, I had a clean conscience that surfing was in the will of God for me. As I meditated whether or not surfing was from God or not, He gave an instant answer: I became the Brazilian surf champion in 1988. I was a nobody, but God put me right up there! What a gift from my heavenly Father!
Today, my pastor is all supportive of what I do. He accepts me and so do all the kids in my church. They pray for me as I enter every competition.
I was addicted to drugs for eight years. I dabbled with marijuana, cocaine and I drank a lot. When I met Jesus and I found out that trusting in Him is the best thing in life, it was as if my eyes were opened. I realized that what I lived before was artificial, like a mask. Through Jesus, I took off my mask and became a real person.
I was a poor kid. I surfed with cheap surf boards. My very first real surf board I got in a competition. But God gave the title champion! God made me, an ugly looking, skinny and melancholic kid, addicted to drugs, into a brand new person. He gave me a wonderful health, lots of physical energy, and a new light in my eyes. I was a slave to sex before, and God gave me real love. God gave me Adriana, a precious jewel, who became my wife. Christ makes all things fall into place in our lives.
In all tournaments, God always gave me calm and patience.
God blesses me but He doesn't do the surfing for me. I can't become a champion if I don't go out there and catch those waves. You know what I am saying? So I work hard at it, I give it the best I can.
When the championship was held in Florianopolis, I had lost all hope of becoming the winner for the second time in a row. Other guys had scored more points that I did.
The beginning of the competition was very hard. The sea was unstable and the waves weren't good either. Besides, the other guys were good at the game.
In the finals, the scorers added all points and I discovered that I could become the champion for the second consecutive year if I came in second in the last round. I prayed to God, that if He had a purpose for me beyond my joy of becoming the champion a second time, then I was willing to win again.
We had a few minutes left for the final go, and I even thought of asking other competitors to "give me a hand" - those who did not depend on results anymore. But God didn't allow that. I came second and got the championship!
In the last round, I always try to put two things ahead of me: one is faith and the other is determination to win. The right wave comes at just the right time – this is all too frequent. God has a direct influence on my life, in all moments. At other times, however, other things may happen. For instance, in Ubatuba, at the Town & Country competition, I came into good waves. My board was not good but I was well positioned and I had lots of determination and faith. However something went wrong. Other times, everything goes smoothly, God sends nice waves my way, but I want to show off and then I fall.
The difference between us, Christians, and those who aren't Christians is staggering! When surfing or doing anything else, we must always spread the good news about Jesus Christ, His plan of salvation and the love of God for humankind. The Bible says that "the mouth speaks of what it is full of." Therefore we must always spread that which is inside of us, the Word of God.
Many people don't understand us and think that we are trying to promote ourselves on top of this image - but that has nothing to do with it. Certainly there are some hypocrites who call themselves Christians but who in fact are only wearing a mask. What we really want is to spread the love of God around to people, so that many people may have a personal encounter with Christ.
I use to say that Jesus was the first surfer who didn't need a board to ride the waves. He walked on the water to save his friends who were in a boat and who were afraid of the storm at the sea. Today we ride the waves on our surfboards but as people inspired by Him.
If you would like to know more about Jesus and what He can do for you, just click the button on the left side of your screen to change your life.