A pro surfer from the age of 19, Bianca Buitendag says her favourite memories are from her days as a grom and waking up in the car at sunrise. The scent of hot coffee from her father’s flask in the front seat and the light breaking over the horizon were promises of a new adventure – another day in the ocean.
A shortboard silver medallist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Bianca says the key to success is knowing who you are. So it’s no surprise that the turning point in her life came when her honesty led her into a deep faith in God – and His love washed away her fear.
BIANCA, HOW DID YOU COME TO SURFING?
I grew up in a small coastal town towards the most southern tip of Africa, but opportunities were slim at home so I started travelling at a young age. I’ve been to 24 countries to this date, and my favourite place on this planet is still the tiny little coastal village of Vic Bay. It is hard to leave and very easy to miss. They say home is where the heart is, and I would have to agree.
Surfing was to me, from the beginning, an excuse to explore, an excuse to adventure. My father was the one who pushed me into my first wave… He introduced me to what I now call ‘my first love’, the ocean, and to a sport I’ll do for as long as I can walk.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAITH JOURNEY.
Being constantly surrounded by a society and industry that required performance, my view of God was consequently similar – I believed I needed to perform so He wouldn’t be disappointed in me.
The result was what you could expect – I was overwhelmed with a fear of God. I was too ashamed to reveal my reality and brokenness, my many unanswered questions, frustrations, insecurities, and my lack of purpose.
But I couldn’t fill the emptiness and manage my behaviour. I couldn’t keep pretending.
My only option was to become very honest with myself and with God – and this was probably the best decision of my life, because ever since the first drop to my knees, my heart has never been the same.
IS THERE A BIBLE VERSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US, AND WHY?
‘For we have come to know the love that God has in us.’ – 1 John 4:16
I discovered that God requires nothing from me; He doesn’t need you and me to be perfect. He calls us altogether beautiful, without blemish. He is a healer, helper, holder; He is a friend. I discovered Him as a Father, after losing my own.
Now I know that God waits and welcomes us with arms stretched wide, that He will never leave, and that all His promises prove true.
I discovered God loves me because He loves me because He loves me – that’s just the way He is. He has created love to have a new meaning to me.