Tyler James first met Bryan at the San Diego City Fest LivinIt Outreach in 2010. The following summer at the age of 13 he attended his first Walking On Water Dream Surf Camp. Soon after he hung up his lacrosse stick and soccer cleats to focus athletically on surfing!
Through Middle and High School years, Tyler continued as an annual surf camper and served alongside Walking On Water with his family. This included outreach events, fundraisers and hosting Derek Rabelo on filming trips while in Southern California. Tyler also served each summer on Surf and Serve Mission Trips to Nicaragua while Bryan continued to support him by speaking at his FCA campus club ministry, and securing his first sponsorship with Cobian. In High School, Tyler established himself as a competitive surfer with more sponsorships and rising up in the NSSA standings to achieve the #2 spot in the Southwest Division. He even went on to take home his first paycheck in a Junior Pro Event. Tyler’s future looked bright as excellent surfer with a solid 3.6 GPA; however, he took his eye off the prize and fell into the fast life in High School. Instead of focusing on training, school and his relationship with Christ; he focused on being the life of the party. With hopes dashed of becoming a Pro-surfer, and a lost scholarship to college, Tyler seemed to be on a downward spiral. Thankfully, through God’s grace, his life was turned around.
A father’s passion to not give into the enemy led to a search on the internet for gap year programs aligned with Tyler’s passion for Surfing and Serving. God uncovered the opportunity to live across the street from Supertubes in Jeffery’s Bay South Africa for 6 months. Tyler was familiar with the spot from the Walking On Water movie and Bryan was instrumental in providing introductions to enter the Christian Surfers South Africa Leadership Training (CSALT) program!
After 2 months into the program, Tyler felt God’s call to stay and serve after CSALT graduation. A God-appointed meeting with Tom Hewitt in lost luggage upon his arrival in Johannesburg blossomed into the next phase of his ministry: Tyler came back home over Christmas to secure funding and a 3-year Visa! He is now serving with Surfers Not Street Children in Durban, South Africa. Tom asked him to be “a Christian mentor, minister and friend to ex-street children in the Surf House”. Tyler has started a weekly Surf House Bible Study, supports surf school outreach to street children, has introduced income sustainability projects and is helping to integrate the community of believers. Tyler is also back competing in the South Africa Champs Series and WSL Junior Tour; he is even starting online College at Liberty University this summer.
Though the road is not always as simple or smooth as we'd like it to be, God is fully able to redeem every life that is surrendered to Him. We are encouraged by young people like Tyler who follow God's all on their life, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds!