Biarritz Oct-Nov 1981
We set out from St Malo, France after a quick trip across the channel in the Hydrofoil, The kombi van we were in was just our means of a cheap 1000 km one way petrol shared taxi as the driver and his girlfriend were to continue on to in Northern Africa to surf Moroccan waves. It was all such an amazing experience for me to be part of a real life surfing adventure through Europe (I was then turning 19 years old). On arriving at Biarritz we found the local campsite at a place called La Barre near the famous hangout of Les Sables Les d’or a café complex filled with the coolest of international surfers and other such adventurous young people. As it happened we managed to pitch our tent alongside others who were likeminded from other parts of the world, from memory our new friends were from South Africa, California, England and somewhere else. We placed our tents in a circle to stake out our claim. We had come to find this a team of eight adventurous surfer mates that were on fire with our surfer lifestyle. When the surf was down we would explore and shop together in the daytime for French cheese, French bread, French wine, the nights we partied on with the local girls. We caught some amazing waves and one time we even train tripped over to San Sebastian in Spain for a few days to experience some more pretty wild and exciting moments of worldly youthful, fun and games.
Encounter with a difference
One night we went out to Les Sables Le Dor to party with some French girls we had met and after some time of drinking and chatting I sat down next to a Spanish girl on her own. After getting to know her a little we went to the beach for privacy to undertake the usual non-Christian thing, after the moment of intimacy she turned to me in broken English and said “my boyfriend is a Warlock, if he finds out what has happened here he will destroy you !” this did not mean much to me at the time but I went away feeling a little weird from what she said. Maybe it had some bearing on some of the things that were about to happen next !
A few nights later we were all sitting around our camp fire in the camp site up on the hill of Le Bar when we began to hear the sounds of distant explosions, these noises were like great loud pops or claps (the release of air when the top of a large wave peals over and drops), it was the Atlantic swell (and a great one) that we had been expecting for three weeks. I excitingly motioned to the guys that we would surf at dawn and so I chose to go to bed early for the early rise. When I awoke I shook a few legs and realised that the others had stayed up and drank much more Bier the night before so I grabbed my wetsuit and surfboard and ran down the street towards the beach. As I peered over the sand dune I could see a great site for any surfer, perfectly shaped large glassy waves with lines way out to sea. I put on my wetsuit quickly and without caution I entered the water.
I remember paddling hard aiming straight out to sea, the waves were mounting up like small buildings and I remember paddling vertically over giant swells, I was in a time period of what surfers call a ‘lull’ (the calm period between the sets), this was a lengthy lull but I convincingly thought it was the period of the ‘sets’ (when the waves were coming in the biggest) even in this time of ‘the lull’ these waves would have been 15 feet on the face. I managed to get to where I thought was the safe spot on the outside of the sand reef and took a break to watch how the waves were breaking behind me and to consider my next move and if I had the courage to catch one of these monsters. After about ten minutes I was looking out to sea for the next set to appear when something strange and awesome began to happen (by this time I was probably 350 yards off the beach and therefore a long way out). I began to notice that out to sea it seemed that the horizon was moving, there was a distinct rising of the ocean positioned in front of me and a very long way off. As I continued to watch this area of ocean (possibly a mile wide) it began to rise higher and higher and I began to panic like I have never done since. Coming towards me was a very large wave likened only to what I could imagine a tidal wave could look like. I remember that I was stunned to see it keep rising and rising and recalling this moment has always returned fearful tears and a panic to me as it is doing now. I have often described it as if you were sitting at the sideline of a large football stadium and watching the whole field turn up vertical on its side.
I began to panic severely and I remember the thought going through my head “I will never make it to the beach if I paddle that way”, “it would be better to try and paddle towards it”, “that is crazy” and I decided that the only thing I could do is to stay where I was, aim my board towards the beach and hold on with all my might as hopefully if get pushed down deep then I will have a better chance of floating to the surface again. I remember watching the wave peak up to its highest and the top section came exploding down about 150 or so yards in front of me. The white water was also a massive towering wall, an explosive loud roaring lion speeding towards me. I started to call out to God to save me and just before the collision I let out a blood curdling scream from deep within everything in me “””JEEEESSSSUUUUSS !!!!! HELLLPPP MEEEEE””” the fear was tremendous and absolute as I knew that there was no hope for me and in a few moments of time I was surely going to die!
I remember the impact of the great wall of white water to be explosive, my board just disappeared and I didn’t even feel the leg rope attached to my leg snap, my body was stretched from limb to limb under the water and I was thrown like a rag doll in every way, it was too powerful to slow down, I was too far out and this was not any ordinary wave.
Suddenly everything went perfectly still and as this happened everything increased to become bright white, the total fear instantly disappeared turning into a total peace and I was surrounded by an awesome love feeling that simply consumed every part of me, there was stillness and an this awesome whiteness of light was all around me, everywhere. I had no sense of a physical body, it was just this incredible awesome eternal place (I had a sensation of timelessness), a place that you would not ever want to leave, perfect peace and love like someone was holding you in their arms. Like if you were an infant and went shopping at a busy location with your mum, if you were to get lost and terrified and screaming then suddenly her hand appeared, picked you up and tenderly cuddled you in her arms.
**On writing this down tonight I am reminded that it is exactly 21 years ago to the month that this happened. The thought of this moment quickens to me the reminder of that awesome fear, it still chills me and the fear returns momentarily bringing me into a place of trouble and tears. It is a vivid moment that I really don’t want to recall but I know that it is important to tell this story and I must add that it does not stop here.
I remember some time later opening my eyes high up on a wet sand dune probably 4-6 metres above the elevation of the tide level and maybe 60 metres up from the waters edge, I had no pain and my lungs contained no water, I looked up the beach away from Biarritz to my surfboard which was Northwards about 100 metres away also high up on the beach. There was no one to be seen, as it was still early in the morning, I was stunned by what had happened and simply just left it at good luck that I was not hurt! I waited a while then I walked home to the camp. Looking back on this moment some twenty years later I know now a life principle that ‘our disappointments are often Gods appointments’.
A few days later
The swell of the ocean had subsided but it still was biggish surf by any surfer’s estimation. I was out in the water one morning and said bonjour to a face I had recognised from our camping ground. He was a young Frenchman who had pitched tent with his mates nearby to us. I could not speak his language and he could not speak much English but we knew enough to communicate that he was inviting me to his tent to share a joint together (marijuana). When I had returned back from surfing that afternoon Pete chose to cook dinner and at that moment I was called over to the nearby tent to where the French surfers were. They instructed me to enter the tent and join them and out of wanting to maintain the image of coolness I entered. The tent was closed behind me and they began to say there hellos and I could tell that they had already become quite stoned. One guy in the back was instructed to do something but I could not see what he was doing. They handed me what I thought was a normal joint to smoke and implied that it was for me and as I begun to smoke it the atmosphere of the attitudes inside the tent began to change. They began to laugh in a strange cackling manner that made me feel very uncomfortable much so that I knew that I had to politely leave. A few moments later I was sitting at the apex of my tent when Pete handed me a plate of baked beans. I began to waver, dropped the plate and began to scream, what was going on inside of me was extremely horrible. If I had a few days before experienced something of God then at this moment it was definitely the opposite. What I remember was I entered what seemed another place spiritually where things were totally out of control a place of absolute fear with unrecognisable monster type beings attacking my again non-bodied soul. It was awesomely horrible, I remember how it stopped, it was at the sound of a loud thunderbolt that went crack and I snapped out of it instantly. Pete said later that they had to hold me down and put pillows over me inside the tent to keep me quite as I was having a screaming fit from a bad trip. Before you all write me off as a weirdo druggie I must say that I have never ever taken any heavy drugs and I absolutely abhor them. I have since researched the situation and have been informed of two facts, the reaction was from probably being (unadvisedly) given what was called then ‘Angel Dust’ and secondly people just don’t instantly snap-out (thunderbolt) out of such a trip. I know now that God had his hand on me and he was not going to let me go !!
After this moment I walked to the beach feeling pretty much bedazzled by my experiences, I sat on the sand dune and looked out to sea. I closed my eyes and I remember seeing clear pictures of what I can only describe as unknown individual people filled with love and joy fade into my mind then out again in the sort of a way you can do this on a video camera. These people all seemed extremely happy and again filled with a joy that I had yet to discover, at the same moment Gods spirit began to speak a clear message to my heart to return immediately to Australia. (More of these people later)
From the point of that day onwards in France a series of clear miracles happened, precisely one after another, miracles of perfect and immediate provision. (Ask me about this if you like) This led to a few weeks later landing in Brisbane airport in Australia and as we were touching down at about 5am I looked out the window and I was met with an instant feeling of peace.
A Season of Change
Following this I had an interesting 18 months, in that time every one of my imaginable worldly hearts desires were given to me to every extent imaginable. Beautiful sexy girlfriends, wild parties in my free home, I became a good fighter through attending Tae Kwon Do, I had the coolest of jobs in the then biggest surf shop in the world, a cool Kombi Van (even with a Les Sable Dor visor sticker that went right across the top of the windscreen), mr cool with all my friends, plenty of money, more girls, a store of the best dope in Australia (and was selling a bit also), frequenting the night clubs, everything that I thought was the ultimate in life.
Regardless of this I remember clearly saying from my heart near the end of this 18 months period “THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS and IF THIS IS ALL THERE IS TO LIFE WHEN A PERSON GAINS SUCCESS AND THE THINGS THAT THEY HAVE DESIRED THEN WHAT IS THE POINT” my mates could not believe that I could entertain such thoughts as in their eyes I had it together and was everything they themselves were aspiring to be. It was not enough, it was the dry revelation that I needed to seek the truth and do it with all my heart. In that 18 months period I had truly been opened to many areas of interest including mind power techniques (including books written by Bruce Lee), the study of body language interpretation, Eastern Meditation (including the use of it within Martial Arts) and other things like theories and secrets such as the survival of ancient cave dwelling Inca/Peruvian civilisations. All sorts of things I looked into but could not find that missing piece of the puzzle of my life and the truth and meaning of life had become the hunger of my heart to find. Near the end of this period some interesting things began to develop.
It seemed like over night everything was striped from me totally, immediately everything fell to pieces, I lost my short term memory so I lost my job, my beautiful looking girlfriend attempted suicide, I lost the house, my money was gone, my kombi blew up, every single one of those things were simply taken away and way out of my control. I was left unemployed and totally alone. I moved in with my best mate Gary and his brother Glen in a city apartment and my girlfriend would visit on the weekend. Glen had a girlfriend named Savannah and ultimately she became friends with my girlfriend Karen. Savannah and Karen became good friends and they began to go away together to the North Coast to visit Savannahs sister who was married to a surfer who was a Pastor of a coastal church. Over this same period I began to buy a surfing newspaper named ‘Line-Up’, it was a normal newspaper/magazine for surfers with one exception the Christian Surfers association had rented a small section in each addition where they creatively wrote clever little surfing stories that related to parables that Jesus taught eg the parable of the sower of the seed/word of God would become the parable of the introduction of surfing to a few different types of guys. These little stories stood out to me powerfully but I would not tell anyone. One day I was invited to the North Coast for the day just to surf and to hang out with the girls. We stopped at Savannahs sisters house and a young lady rushed out to meet us in the driveway, she did not know we were coming. The first words she said to us were “God just told me that three people were going to arrive this morning and he wants me to tell them about Jesus” I straight away decided that she was a crack-pot and went in for a coffee with the others. She was very enthusiastic and couldn’t stop telling us about how the Holy Spirit would help her when she was out in the waves surfing and that the Holy Spirit would teach her things. Later I met Savannahs brother –in –law and he seemed like a cool guy, he did not say much about God but he spent some quality time with me showing me surfing photos and we talked about the local waves. There was something different, special and real about these people, something shiny, something that I didn’t have and I knew that I wanted it.
Soon after this meeting both Karen and Savannah became Christians, they would invite me to church and I would decline saying that it was just another trip people go on. There was no way in the world that I would ever become a Christian at all ! and that was final.
Changes started happening in me when I began to see changes in them, I saw Karen transform into an innocent and pure hearted young lady (and I knew Karen!), I remember thinking “this type of change just does not happen to a girl like Karen”. I remember that I started to sneak into church and hide up in the balcony week after week, they never knew. One day the minister turned, looked up at me in the balcony and spoke his entire message directly to me, it was as if he were Jesus himself, he knew everything about the deepest unknown secrets of my heart and this was too much to ignore. I later got hold of a Good News Bible and read it from cover to cover and the incredible thing was for the first time ever every word came alive to me and the stories and lessons remained with me. I knew all these things were doing something but I still did not want to be known as a Christian not only that but from my reading of the Bible and the Christian Surfers parables I knew that the commitment would have to be everything for always and forever.
One Friday night Glen, Gary and I decided that we would go out on the town, we would be loose and we would make a great evening of it, ‘no holds barred’, and we did !
We started off with a meal at a popular social hangout, started drinking then we taxied to numerous clubs, picking up girls as we went, dancing, a bit of fighting, smashing glasses on neon signs and running from bouncers belly laughing as we went, we did everything that excites three guys out on the town in one evening of great guy stuff, we were still pumped up on returning home the next day. When we arose from sleep later that afternoon Gary turned to me from his bed next to mine and said “hey are you awake? in all the years of our raging and nights out that was the greatest night we have ever had out Tim” in reply I said these words “Yes Gary it was ! but I have made up my mind on something, that is the last time for me, today I am going to become a Christian”. He replied with some choice words that I would not repeat. When he was not around I knelt down next to my bed and gave my heart fully to Jesus.
I began to attend the Church where Karen and Savannah were attending, two weeks later I was asked if I wanted to be baptised in water along with them both, I told the youth Pastor that I had just read about Jesus being baptised and if it was something that I needed to do I would do it also. That night something awesome happened, something very special took place. When I was under the water being baptised in that split second of time I had the same experience again that had taken place in Biarritz, France over 18 months earlier, the experience of the light, the love and that awesome eternal revelation, as I came up out of the water I began to speak in a new language, the language of the Holy Spirit that I previously knew nothing about, I was drained of energy, I was shaking and I could not speak normally for literately hours after. Jesus had set me free, free to be who I was meant to be and free to experience a new world and a new adventure and the start of a full and amazing new life.
I made a firm commitment to Jesus and was baptised in August 1983 at the age of 20 years. I then moved into a guy’s discipleship houses in Brisbane before moving to the Byron Bay region into a dynamic Christian community named “True Vine”. In 1994 the Lord showed me clearly to go to New Zealand, after this he showed me the reason, he wanted me to attend a Bible and discipleship school within the organization named “Youth With a Mission”. In August 1995 I left Australia and said goodbye to the girl I was keen to marry in my church and have been associated both directly and indirectly with YWAM now for a period of 18 years. I have also had periods of self-employment as an Interior Designer, Renovator and a Sub-contract Painter in various countries. I have been involved in serving ministries within Australia, NZ, the Pacific Islands, the UK and USA (Hawaii)
I believe that Gods Holy Spirit spoke to me when I first went into YWAM training college in 1985 saying that “it is to the degree that you allow me to deepen the foundations of your life then it will be to the degree of the ministry that I can build upon this foundation, the wider the foundation the taller the building”. After twenty years of walking with the Lord and extended full time periods of serving discipleship and mission ministries I sense that he desires to keep releasing me further within areas of international evangelism, teaching and Christian ministry.
Currently I am producing Christian television shows and documentaries in Australia that major on life changing testimonies in the lives of committed Christians, we are being led in particular with targeting specific and unusual people groups with sharing the gospel.
I believe that God has been shaping me for many purposes in him. I am open to his leading and intend to see great things take place as he continues to guide me on his invisible mapped out path. I have a strong desire to continue to see others facilitated and mobilised into missions work and to see others trained and discipled to fulfil Gods highest calling for their lives.
I have seen Gods hand at work and I know that he has all power and authority to change circumstances and I am totally convinced that I should not be alive today to have made the account of this story.