Amazing Racers – The Story of Andy Finch

I am a big fan of the TV show “Amazing Race”.  I think it appeals to my love of travel and my fascination of other cultures around the world.  I have watched many of the seasons, though not all of them, and each year I have a team that I find myself rooting for.

This time around, I think it is the team of Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin – professional snowboarders from California.  They have been doing well, and unlike most teams that compete, have been completely laid back the whole journey thus far.

When looking into who they were, I came across Andy Finch’s story on a cool website for ThisIzMyStory ministries.  They are a ministry that exists to spread the story of what God is doing in and through the lives of a handful of surfers, wakeboarders, snowboarders and more (Brian Jennings and Bethany Hamilton included).  Check out the video below.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/PDbwlwbdQZc?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0

Through his story, we see why he seems so laid back on the show.  He has had to deal with some hard times in his life – and now he is taking advantage of a chance to travel around the world, see some sights and enjoy it all as he does it.

He has some other videos both of his snowboarding and lessons about God he is learning from snowboarding on the YouTube channel for thisizmystory

Jake Sawyer – Olympic Swimmer

It is fun to share the story of of Christian athletes, sharing their faith through sports and life. It is even more fun when I get to share the story of someone that I know personally.  Today I’m going to share the story of a young man from here in the greater Twin Cities metro area – My friend Jake.
Jake Sawyer is a swimmer that will be representing the USA at the Special Olympics in Greece at the end of the month.  He did some Polar Plunges as part of the fund raising process.  (For those of you that don’t know what that is, it means he jumps into a lake in Minnesota, in February – No Thanks!) You can check out the web site for the event here.
He is excited about all that lies ahead, and I am very excited about this opportunity for him.  He is a great guy, who loves sports, movies, giving out hugs and smiles.  He also loves God, and God’s loves shines from within him.  I am praying for him and know that he will have a great experience in Greece (I am more than a little bit jealous about his trip – I’ve always wanted to go to Greece – He will spend 3 weeks there, starting on Friday of this week)
One of our local news stations did a short feature on him.  Check out the video here.

Go get `em Jake!

Soul Surfer Review

Just as I was entering the theater to watch Soul Surfer with my 5th/6th grade youth group (Club 56) I read a tweet from a  Greg Stier, president of  “Dare 2 Share” Ministries.  His take on the movie was that it was refreshing to go to a movie that was not only “good – you know, for a Christian movie” but  actually a good movie overall.  I agree with that take. 
It has been great to see that over the last decade or so, there is no step down in quality from “good music” to “Christian music”.  Christian Movies have not progressed as quickly, but there is hope.  I’m not going to tell you that it was the best movie that I have ever seen and deserves to be remembered at Oscar time, but there are a lot of movies that come to theaters that are not necessarily Oscar worthy.  It is easy, however to find enjoyable, well-done movies.

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That is where I put this one too.  It was an enjoyable story, uplifting and full of lessons to learn about  depending on God, persevering through hard times, getting some perspective that life that doesn’t revolve around you, and trusting God to bring good in situations that seem to have no good in them.  It was pretty well acted, the Hawaiian scenery was BEAUTIFUL, and the story engaging.  Time well spent with Club 56 and worth the time and money to go see.
And to be honest, it is because of this movie’s release that I even know about this story at all.  I remember vaguely hearing about a shark attacking a young surfer a few years back, but it had fallen well off of my radar in the years since this incident was in the media spotlight. See what I wrote about this story before seeing the movie here

Now that I am familiar with the story, it is great to see how Bethany Hamilton has dealt with the loss of her arm,  struggled to understand why, and decided what to do about it.  To see how she sees every day as an opportunity to tell others about how God is working in her and helping her live a life that honors Him.  

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As I have learned the story, it brought to mind another story of another Christian athlete.  He also suffered a grim incident.  His name is Dave Dravecky.  He was a star pitcher for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.  He had been successful in his career.  Then, in 1988, cancer had been discovered in the deltoid muscle of his throwing arm.  He was told that only a miracle would allow him to pitch again.  The attention of the baseball world was firmly focused on him when miraculously, he made his return to pitch for the Giants less than 18 months later.  But it was short lived.  In a gruesome moment, his arm broke mid-pitch during his second game back. The cancer had returned and weakened the arm. Later that year, he announced his retirement from baseball at the age of 33.  His childhood dreams were over. He eventually had the arm amputated to stop cancer from spreading to the rest of his body.  Since that time, he has become a speaker and author, sharing his story to many different audiences.  He understands that God has given him a platform to share God’s love to others. I read his first 2 books when I was in high school, finding his story amazing and faith encouraging.  For more about Dave Dravecky, check out his web-site here

There are some similarities to their stories.  They have suffered agony, loss, dream-shattering reality and moments of doubt.  They are also similar in that they have since accepted their responsibility to use their fame and influence to share not only their stories – which are very Christ-centered, but also to offer insight and invitation for others to trust Jesus and live life for Him.

What a challenge from these 2 believers.  They’ve been through more than I can imagine.  Yet, they are ready to share the joy that is in their life, and point to the importance Christ plays in their lives.  God’s plan always is the best, and by challenging his children to go through hard times and depend only on God for solutions, even when it is hard, uncomfortable or scary we can be sure that God is with us.  We can overcome.  Press on to attain the prize for which God has called us heavenward. 

Follow up to Soul Surfer

I last posted about the new movie Soul Surfer that is opening next week.   Well,  I was going to let that post stand alone, but something else was brought to my attention and so I will pass it along to you.
Last night, I was talking to a friend that had read my post, and she told me of another movie about Christian Surfers – and there are a LOT of them.  She loaned me the movie and my wife and I watched it last night.  It is a very cool story about a pro surfer pouring into the lives of 2 young up-and-coming surfers.  He takes them with him on a trip (or series of trips) to some of the best surfing spots on the globe.  The movie is called Walking on Water  check out the website and story here.  It was quite good.
 It appealed to me on 2 levels.
First of all, it gives several of the top surfers in the world a chance to share how important Jesus is to their lives and the hope that He gives them, even in the face of the hardships of life.  And second, it appeals to me and my desire to travel all around and see the beautiful places and experience the amazing and different cultures that exist in God’s wonderful creation.
It also taught me about a very cool missions organization.  Christian Surfers International.  Find their web site here.  They are an organization that considers surfers largely as an unreached people group.  They have set up an organization that will show God’s love to all areas of the surfing world.  They want to empower Christian surfers to reach out to their local surfing community.  Check out their website if you are interested.  It is a pretty specific niche for outreach, and they are doing some pretty cool things as they bring Jesus into the surfing world with them.
 Thanks Amanda for finding this movie and bringing it to my attention.
So how about you?  What other cool mission niches have you come across?  How is God calling you to use your passions, gifts and talents to bring Him into your world to impact the lives of others?