Surfers and Contract Killers

I used to show teenagers two DVDs as evidence.

One was called “Changes”.1 Various surfers tell about how they encountered Jesus. The story of Chris O’Rourke, the last one on the DVD, is particularly moving. By 1976, at the age of seventeen, he was the top-ranked surfer on mainland America. Then cancer struck. He was led to Christ by another surfer, Brew Briggs. Brew had become a Christian earlier, and had tried sharing his faith with his fellow surfers. “But they didn’t want to listen!”

But facing death, Chris did. Once a Christian, he had an amazing influence on many, including his arch rival, Joey Buran. Joey knew he would never be the top surfer in California as long as Chris was fit. Describing himself as brash and cocky, he found himself seated next to a very ill Chris on a non-stop flight to Australia, with no other seat free on the plane. Chris questioned him on the fulfilment he found in surfing and witnessed to him about Jesus the whole way to Australia.

Chris died at the age of twenty-two. Two years later Joey became a Christian. He said he owed it, humanly speaking, to Chris.

Before his death Chris and his wife held meetings in their home for teenagers, and many came to Christ through his testimony.


The second DVD was called “Tough Talk”. On it were the stories of some violent ex-bouncers, body builders and one former contract killer. They too had encountered Jesus, and their lives were changed. They formed a team and offered to visit schools to share their faith, so I invited one of them, Ian McDowall, to come down to the school in Dorset where I was chaplain. He spent the night in our home, and my wife and I felt perfectly safe with him – his life had been transformed.

He spoke to the youngsters about his relationship with Jesus while doing squats with three hundred and fifty pounds on his back.

“That’s a lot of weight!” I said to him.

“I normally do 500,”he said, “but there’s nobody here to catch for me.”2

His testimonywas powerful, particularly for any boy who had been told that being a Christian was not manly, and the youngsters were greatly encouraged in their faith.


All this is evidence, and very powerful too.

But it is subjective, and they could be lying.

But again, why would they want to?




1 The DVD is obtainable from


2 He is one of the authors of a book called Tough Talk (Authentic Media Milton Keynes 2011 ISBN 978-1-86024-823-8)