What began as a ministry initiative to share Christ with athletes who skate and surf, has become what we now know today as FCA Surf and Action Sports in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Joe Matera, Founder/Former National Director of FCA Surf, and his wife Laura led this ministry alongside FCA’s mission, “To lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.”
In 1998, Joe left his conventional job to come on staff with a Christian ministry called Christian Surfers United States (CSUS), where he got to lean into his passion for sharing Christ in the surf and skate community.
After four years, Joe and Laura decided to make the transition from CSUS to FCA, where Joe would become the first Area Representative in South Jersey. At the time, there was a local FCA Board in the area, but there had never been a staff person in the region.
Joe’s heart for the surf and skate community led to the first ever FCA Surf Camp in South Jersey starting in 2003.
“The first summer Joe shared with me, ‘Laura, FCA does camps… I’m going to do a surf camp,’” said Laura. They bought 10 surf boards, invited all their friends’ kids and showed up at the beach for camp.
At the time, FCA was sports-specific, and Joe was later given the opportunity to be the National Board Sports Director and help grow board sports, like surf and skateboarding, through the ministry.
But this was not something he ever did on his own. Joe’s role in FCA became a lifestyle for their whole family.
“There were plenty of opportunities for myself and our family of three growing girls to be present and jump into all the ministry that was going on,” Laura said. “A lot of ministry went on in the home. We ran surf and skate Bible studies and mentored young people. We were all kind of doing FCA together, but Joe was the staff person.”
Little did they know just how meaningful their investment as a family would be for the ministry in years to come.
Doing Something New
Years passed, and FCA continued to grow. In 2010, Joe and Laura both felt the Lord stirring up an excitement in them.
Like Isaiah 43:19 states, something new was stirring:
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
“We both began to feel that God was going to do a new thing in us and move in a new way,” Laura said. “Everything was going well, and we were excited about what God was going to reveal to us.”
The “new thing” the Matera’s were anticipating was nowhere near what they could have prepared for. That year, Joe was diagnosed with terminal melanoma cancer.
“It wasn’t the revealing of the glorious opportunity in our eyes,” Laura said. “It was the revealing of the really difficult season of loss and ultimately loss of his life.”
In that season of incredible heartache and challenges, the Materas continued to lean on Jesus. During Joe’s last years of life, he and his family remained dedicated to carrying out the call God had put on their lives in doing ministry together.
Laura’s involvement with FCA naturally began to increase as she courageously walked alongside her husband during his battle until he went to be with Jesus in 2013, four weeks into camp season.
Shared Laura, “We all went to camp the next day because that’s the place we felt life and felt the closest to God.”
The Materas lives were forever changed in that moment. Although the pain was great, through hope and faith in Jesus, they knew God wasn’t done with their story. He was about to do something new in Laura and in her family.
“I think we say, ‘God’s timing is perfect’ when it’s perfect for us and coincides with our perfect plan,” Laura said. “Looking at what happened and when Joe left, I wondered why God wouldn’t take him before camp started or why He didn’t let him go through camp season and then take him home.
“But because God took Joe in the middle of camp season, He revealed Himself to me and proved to me that I had the opportunity to do things that I didn’t know that I could do.”
The Start to Finish Well
Laura was determined to take what Joe had started and finish well. Initially, she didn’t think Surf Camp would continue after wrapping up that season, but through the support of the board and encouragement from other FCA leaders, Laura kept it going.
“God, in His grace, gave me the ability to do it that year, which gave me more confidence going into the next year,” Laura said.
Since stepping into her role and serving as the FCA Surf Mid-Atlantic Director, Laura continues to run the 8-week FCA Surf Camps and helps with camps each summer, has developed an FCA internship program to invest and mentor young people and has brought on more staff to continue to advance the ministry in the region.
FCA continues to bring about newness for Laura and her family and the Materas are dedicated to keeping the mission Joe began flourish for the glory of God.
“I think FCA gives myself, our leadership board, our staff and those who partner and volunteer with us the greatest opportunity to impact their community for Christ outside of the local church.”
The Matera family is leaving an impressionable impact in their community as well as throughout FCA. They are a true testament of what it looks like to fully trust Jesus and remain faithful to His purpose and calling on their lives. Please pray for staff growth, continued ministry impact and for wisdom and insight for Laura’s leadership.
If you’d like to support Laura and her ministry efforts in the Mid-Atlantic region, you can find information here!