It’s a phrase we quote as often as we consider Christ’s greatest and most familiar command, and it is entirely possible many of us have sought ways to satisfy this most essential order that Jesus gave as He ascended into heaven. Each year we hear of missionaries who set out on planes, trains, boats, and automobiles to carry the Gospel to “the uttermost,” but what about a surfboard?
Kerry Hunt, a deacon and financial benevolence counselor at First Baptist Church in Ludowici, took up surfing at the age of 52. His desire was to find something he and his wife, Toni, could enjoy together and since Toni liked the beach, Kerry thought, “Why not surfing?”
It instantly became his passion, and like all of his passions prior to surfing, he wanted to find a way to incorporate his “greatest passion” – sharing Christ with others.
Vocationally, Kerry is the local Farm Bureau agent. He is a Christian businessman, well acknowledged as a clean cut, articulate, and well-educated member of society. On any given day in the town of Ludowici, he can be found at his office wearing a long sleeved white dress shirt and his signature “red” ties.
To say the least, no one would ever guess he’s “a surfer.” And while many long-term acquaintances are surprised to find out he surfs, none are surprised that he is a witness for Christ.
About the time Kerry began his quest to conquer the waves, a discussion was taking place in his church about affinity groups and how to reach them. His pastor, J. Eric Rentz, had invited several members of the leadership team as well as pastors of other churches to come to a GCRC, or Great Commission Resource Center, roll-out meeting. The meeting included Georgia Baptist leaders such as George Barnett, Mike Everson, Stacy Dyer, and Executive Director J. Robert White.
Those in attendance heard about groups of affinity and how our churches could become Great Commission Resource Centers. It didn’t take long for the concept of affinity groups to become a regular part of the discussion in the pulpit and in leadership meetings at FBC Ludowici.
Affinity Groups are defined as those who have similar interests such as bikers, ballplayers, hunters, firefighters, policemen, and the military. To reach any group, you have to be accepted of the group. Kerry had found the perfect affinity group at the beach – surfers.
The objective was clear; we are to share the Gospel outside the walls of the church. Even more fitting is the language of the command “to the ends,” or “the uttermost parts,” of the earth. And wouldn’t you know, God called Kerry to minister exactly where that occurs.
Many theologians have debated about “the uttermost” and where our Lord was sending His followers. Kerry simply accepts that Christ must have meant the beach because it is literally where the earth ends and ocean begins. With a great passion for the sport and a clear objective to be a witness, all that was left was a method of delivery.
And then it came to him: the greatest way to carry the message is to carry it. Literally! The idea came as a revelation and became a reality as Kerry asked custom surfboard artist Jim Dunlop to build him a surfboard with a message proclaiming, “Because of 500 eyewitnesses I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”
It is not unusual for people who enjoy extreme sports to display logos and messages on their equipment, but when you see a message like Kerry’s it really draws attention. In an interview with The Christian Index Hunt said, “You really get some interesting responses. Many will give you a thumbs-up, some will walk faster to read the message, and others will engage in conversation. It is truly amazing how a simple testimony can get so much attention at a place like the beach. It’s just one way to open the door for me to share Christ with those who have like passions.”
Since he started carrying the message there have been numerous encounters with people from all over the nation, and the world, who come to the east coast for recreation and vacation. As a matter of fact, on the very day of the interview a woman asked him to pray for her terminally ill two-year-old son.
Hunt remarked, “It’s just so humbling when people approach you as one of God’s servants and you get the opportunity to share a prayer or a word of testimony.”
At age 54, Kerry has found a ministry that has endless possibilities and only eternity will reveal the impact of his simple message of faith. If you’re at the beach somewhere between Brunswick and Daytona, FL, it is possible you might just catch this surfing deacon sporting his board, and sharing Christ.
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