Sharing faith and adventure to a global audience with video
Richard Ellerington, along with his family, has established a Surf Church in Hossegor, France, which is one of the world's surfing hubs. Discover some of the moments on their seven-year journey, how they have used video to share their story and learn what they are currently working on.
Rich and Regi Ellerington are Elim's extreme sports missionaries in Hossegor. Along with their three children: Mani (boy), AJ (girl) Indie (boy) - they are a family all with long blond hair!
Rich is probably most well known with the youth of Elim as the crazy guy at The Gathering, though he's been involved for so long, some of these young people are now adults.
He once stood on stage with his pregnant wife, Regi, and asked the crowd what to name the child they were expecting. The loudest cheer won and as a result their son was named Indie!
Establishing a new surf church
In August 2012, Rich along with his whole family boarded a truck and drove to Hossegor, France. Their vision was to plant a Surf Church in Hossegor, South-West France, which is one of the world's surfing hubs.
Their desire in relocating to Hossegor was to reach the surfing community and see people, who may otherwise have little to no connection with a church, impacted by the Gospel.
To do this, they wanted to create a space for surfers and the local beach community to explore what faith in Jesus looks like and the extraordinary difference He can make in their lives. Beyond that, they plan to create a platform on which they could train and release other church planters along the coast of France and beyond.
Two years later, an honest and inspiring video called 'Forgotten Shores' was released. This short documentary directed by James Chapman showed what church planting looks like in real life, with Rich and his wife Regi, sharing the highs and lows of church planting in France.
“What happens when God speaks to a man and his wife and alters the direction of their life? What happens when 3 children have to let go of their friends and toys and put their life into a small box to go and live in a different country?”
The Church On The Ocean
Fast forward a few years and April 2016 saw the release of 'The Church On The Ocean', a full-length film directed by Sarah Cogden, that documents the story of Surf Church. It follows the lives of its leaders and members as they learn what it means to live missionally in a secularised world.
The story continues to unfold
Over the past seven years, God has been doing incredible things and transforming lives, families, our local community and beyond, with Surf Church receiving attention both locally and nationally.
In September 2018, a feature article was published by the French edition of Vice.com. (You can use your internet browser to auto translate the text.)
In this article, Rich said: "Surfers are spiritual people. They have this natural ability to understand who created the world because they enjoy this huge gift that is the ocean. Jesus Himself walked on the water. Surfers must have faith in their surfboard because this object has to catch the wave that can be very nervous."
Also in the same month, France 2 broadcast a church service from the church. You can watch this online - sorry no English subtitles have been added to the video yet.
A new faith sharing season
Having established the Surf Church, the team are now seeking to see the second part of their vision take shape, where they create a platform to train and release other church planters along the coast of France and beyond.
To to this, the church is partnering with a local Catholic church who has graciously given them usage of their beachfront chapel. They plan to renovate a large run-down apartment in the building to use it in the summer as a Surf Hostel, welcoming everyone into a Christian environment. Then, over the winter period, run a Church Planting training school over the winter months, in partnership with YWAM.
Creating a Youtube mini-series
Last year saw the launch of a new video mini-series called, 'The Adventures of the Ginger Vicar and the Balding Bishop', also directed by James Chapman. It's an adventure travel show that features Rich as the Ginger Vicar and fellow host Andy Frost (Director of Share Jesus International) as the Balding Bishop.
Together, they travel the world in search of adventure and to explore big issues through the lens of faith. Season 1 contains six episodes produced with the hope that the show will inspire, challenge and encourage people on their journey in life.
The episodes feature Rich and Andy surfing in epic locations, bull riding, cliff jumping, taking a trip to the Artic Circle, learning how to become a stuntman, sword fighting, riding dune buggies and wing walking at 12,000ft. During their travels, the adventuring duo face their fears while exploring important life issues such as image, identity, commitment, regrets, failure and success.
You can follow their adventures on Youtube. If you like them, don't forget to give them a 'thumbs up' and subscribe, as well as sharing the videos across social media.
Rich and Andy are currently chasing after their first 1,000 Youtube subscribers with the hope of unlocking access to the Youtube studios in London and attend a week-long course on film making to help develop their new skills. Can you help them surpass their goal?
In addition to their fun adventures, you can also view the full interview with South African surfer Shannon Ainslie who shares his unique story about surfing, surviving a shark attack and his personal faith!
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