Tom and God’s Plus Sign at Ventura’s Surfer’s Knoll

From The Long Board To
The Long Cross

Surfing hit the Texas Gulf Coast in 1960, when I was thirteen. My sister’s boyfriend knew some California surfers, who visited Galveston Island that summer and brought the long board to the Lone Star state.  From what I can recall, I was the fifth or sixth Texan to take up the long board and ride the two to three foot swells of Galveston Bay.

When I caught my first wave, I was hooked.

That summer I gave up the girls for the surf board. Riding waves was both exhilarating and unbelievable. Every morning my friend Louie and I would hitchhike the nine miles from my home in Texas City to the island city. Sometimes we’d actually spend the night on Galveston Beach just to wake up to and ride the “glass,” the pristine and gently-breaking waves.

Nothing smelled better than the sun tan oil, the wax, and the surf.

For six great years I surfed as much as possible. Between playing organized baseball, football and basketball, I surfed my life away, and was glad to have parents who didn’t stop me from spending so much time at the beach. I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen so I could get my driver’s license and  buy a cheap car to carry my board and travel to the island and surf every day if I wanted to.

At sixteen I bought a dark green 1952 Plymouth for $50 and immediately painted “Surfer’s Wagon” in big red letters on each front tire fender and for the whole world to see. I also knocked out the rear window glass pane and shoved my long board through the open window and into the back seat. I was now a full-time surfer.

The Endless Summer Becomes The Endless Easter

From The Warmth Of The Sun To The Warmth Of The Son: Trading The Endless Summer For The Endless Easter.

But I was also a criminal.

You can read about my criminal and chemical exploits in my testimony.

Surfing was like breathing. Essential and necessary for my existence.  Time went by so quickly. At age twenty-two and obsessed with moving to California to surf, I robbed a bank and headed for the West Coast. Of course I was eventually captured and then sent to prison.

The best thing that ever happened to me occurred in prison.

While in the “joint,”  I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord when a group of Christian athletes came to the prison and shared their unique stories about a God who loved them so much that He died on the cross for their sins.  They shared that He died for my sins as well. Something happened to me that day. For some reason, I believed what they said. On February 9, 1973 I asked God to forgive me of all my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. And you know what? I felt like a brand new person and like a ton of weight had been lifted off my chest and out of my life.

Convict For Christ!

I read every book of the Bible, attended chapel services as often as the prison allowed, and gave my entire life to the God who died on the Cross for my sins. I also co-founded Convicts For Christ and began telling everyone in sight — inmate, prison guard, visitor, counselor, psychologist — that everyone is in prison until they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Only Jesus can set us free from the worst prison there is: the prison of the mind. Revival broke out among inmates and prison workers. All Because Jesus died for sinners, losers and winners. And according to the Bible we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

Free Man In Christ For Forty Years!

Eventually I was paroled, a brand new man in Christ.

I was also a minister of the Gospel.

Although I enjoyed surfing and still have many fond memories of that life, I knew that when I gave my life to Jesus my surfing days were over–at least for the time being. I have now been a street evangelist for thirty-eight years,  and for the past five years I have carried a 60-pound, ten-foot cross throughout California cities.

When I accepted Jesus as my Savior I gave up the long board for the long cross and the endless summer for the endless Easter! Surf and turf life for resurrection life. Temporal life for eternal life.

Don’t get me wrong. There isn’t anything wrong with surfing. I’m just too busy leading people to Jesus. Where I once couldn’t contain my joy and had to talk people into surfing, I now can’t contain the joy in my life about Jesus Christ and what He did for this man who was nicknamed Moon by other inmates because I loved to surf at night as well.  Cowabunga has now become Hallelujah. My ocean is now the streets of California. And this forgiven sinner now chases the Endless Easter, which is day to day victory over sin, self and Satan and eternal life in Christ, all because of Jesus’  resurrection!

The Endless Easter! Life eternal. All because of  Jesus Christ, the first water walker.