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Noah Snyder: Surfer Gets Saved at the Ark

By Guy Schafer - To championship surfer Noah Snyder, happiness was sun, sand and good waves. However, once he got on board with God things began to change.

Noah's father encouraged him to begin surfing at age 13. Once he caught his first wave and went down the line, Noah said it was one of the greatest highs he had ever felt. He knew then and there, if he was able, this was what he wanted to do the rest of his life.

He has held fast to surfing. By 15, he was placing consistently in the top five in open category competition, beating surfers much older and more experienced than himself. He turned pro at 21 and is the first professional surfer to come out of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Known internationally, Noah surfs around the world. As a professional, he's waiting to win his first major, but Noah already has a string of top-10 finishes that read like the 'Who's Who' of surfing. His specialty: riding the big waves. But as good as surfing is, things weren't always so smooth for Noah.

"There was a lot of pressure, because I was looked up to, and when I would go out surfing, I would always feel like I had to do well and not just for myself but for the people that looked up to me. Image is one thing that you have to portray in a good way."

As the ad on TV says, 'Image is everything.' And for Noah and the entire surfing industry, that is particularly true. While Noah was never a hard-core partier, the drinking and constant temptation to party were beginning to get to him. He didn't know it, but his life was coming to a crossroads.

"I was spending time in Florida. I was down there for some contests and I had some time to think to myself. I had a feeling of emptiness that was brewing inside me, and I didn't understand it. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling this way, but I felt the urge to go home."

It was back home in the Outer Banks that Noah met an old friend he hadn't seen for years. One day this friend invited Noah and a few of his surfing friends to go to church with him.

"It was a time where my mind wasn't on God. I wasn't thinking about the Lord or thinking about living for the Lord or even becoming a Christian or any of those things that a lot of people face now when they go to church. It was almost like my mind was pretty clear, but it wasn't on God.

"Rich Workerson was the guest speaker that morning. And when he spoke, it almost felt like he was inside of my body, and feeling the things that I felt and feeling the hurt that I felt. It was almost like he had experienced my whole life for the past month."

As the service drew to a close, Noah knew God was working in his heart. He raised his hand, but he was afraid to go forward. At the time, he had three other friends with him and he decided he couldn't go up because of what they might think.

Noah's friend, Andy, had seen him raise his hand. Andy asked if he had been saved, and Noah was unable to give him a straight answer. Andy led Noah to the altar, asking Noah to trust him.

"I cried and I wept, but at the same time, I felt a true love in my life that I had never, ever felt before," says Noah.

Eventually Noah's other two friends joined him at the altar. Though the friends didn't know it at the time, God had been working in each of their hearts at the same moment. The Spirit of God simply moved over them, and they were all humbled by the Lord and shared the salvation experience.

The world of surfing is not the first place you would look for young Christians, much less a place where you'd expect to find someone on fire for God. But things are changing.

Since the group has been saved, ten more of their friends have come to know the Lord. It seems that the change from their old lifestyle to how they are currently has had a great impact. In a time in a community that rejects the words and teachings of God, Noah knows the prayers of his new family helped keep him strong.

"My whole church and everyone says they will be praying for me, praying for this and praying for that. I thank God for allowing me to go to a church like that.

"On the day that I got saved, Andy got up in front of the whole congregation and he was like, 'Today we have a professional surfer that got saved in the ark, and guess what? His name is Noah.' I just stopped. I thought that was so ironic just how it happened. I mean, everybody says that God has a sense of humor. That's proof of it right there."

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