Derek Rabelo is a big wave surfer like no other.
He’s a Christian and he’s totally blind.
He’s also renowned for his incredible courage and his faith.
The Brazilian has conquered giant waves that terrify even pro-surfers with 20/20 vision such as Hawaii’s Pipeline, Jaws and Mavericks in Northern California, and the towering 50-foot monsters at Nazaré in Portugal.
Derek was born with congenital glaucoma.
He always wanted to surf and after learning about his surfer Dad’s hopes for him, he decided to turn them into a reality.
He told Vision Radio: “If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself, otherwise you can’t do it.”
“When I’m out there surfing I rely a lot on what I can feel or what I can hear. I use my hearing a lot.”
“I listen to the ocean and feel it. Every single part of a wave makes different noises so I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards.”
Derek’s Christian faith is also a major factor in his surfing.
“My faith is what has kept me alive and also capable to achieve my goals. And also that’s what brings happiness to my life. And that’s how I find whenever I find myself in a situation that it’s challenging and then scary, I just see where I’m at and where I came from. That’s what faith means for me.”
“When I’m surfing, I rely on myself obviously first and on my faith in God, which is always bigger and stronger than my fears and my challenge.”
Derek says his faith and that of his family gradually grew stronger as he grew up.
“My grandmother was a Christian and then after I was born, my Mum started to grow closer to God. And around when I was maybe 10 or 12 years old, that’s when I got closer to God and my Dad as well. I can say that my family was Christian since the beginning and that helped a bit for me to follow.”
Derek is in huge demand as an inspirational speaker at churches, schools and corporate functions.
He encourages people to shake off the limitations on their thinking and follow the dreams and plans God has planted inside each and every one of them, especially when it comes to overcoming their fears on which he’s an expert.
“Fear is something that we cannot take away from our lives because we are human beings. But it’s definitely something that we can learn how to control. We are actually meant to control the fear, not be controlled by it. So whenever I am afraid of something that just shows me that I’m probably not prepared, I don’t feel confident on myself, on things that I have worked out, and that shows me that I need to get out even more of my comfort zone.”
Derek has been an inspiration to many of the world’s top surfers and that story has been made into a movie called Beyond Sight.