My name is Greg Mungall and I grew up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where I learned to surf and live a life of ‘surfing the wrong way’ until I found inner freedom through Jesus Christ. The surfing lifestyle allowed me to enjoy my freedom, but His words freed me from slavery to drugs, alcohol and my daily self ridicule.
Surfing has its own unique lifestyle that few truly understand. In Hawaii, it has been called the “Sport of Kings” for that very reason. Once the essence of surfing and the ocean lifestyle have been found, it becomes sheer pleasure and a way of life. Grab your board, paddle out and enjoy some waves, no fees to be paid. It’s free; yes, FREE!
As I grew up, I competed professionally and it took me into a place of great joy and great sadness.
Winning surfing events and traveling on the International Professional Surfing world tour was a tremendous privilege. As a young adult, I traveled the world to Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the west and east coasts of the US.
I was living every young man’s dream! I thought I had it all – the ocean, surfing, girls, travel, prestige – but all that was cut short when, in South Africa, I contracted hepatitis from an injury. The illness changed everything and sent me into a self-destructive spiral of drugs and drinking.
Hepatitis took my body down. When I realized I would never again compete at a world class level, I plunged deeper into depression. I continuously beat myself up both mentally and emotionally as I jumped from place-to-place while living in California during the late ’70s.
At that time, California was not the right place to be contemplating a lifestyle free from alcohol and drugs, and I was not yet looking for that freedom. My life was all about me. Instead, I wallowed in self-pity and entered a few professional surf contests here and there. I hung around some of the biggest names in the surf industry and went on surf trips up and down the west coast, shooting for magazines as I attempted to kill the void in my life.
During a stint living near Cayucos on California’s Central Coast, there was a turn of events that, in hindsight, I realize was God’s intervention. I met the Collins family. Lance Collins of Wave Tools Surfboards needed some help at his big surfboard shop in Costa Mesa, California. Around 1981, I moved down there and lived in the shop while helping Lance with a big sailboard order.
The ’80s were the heydays of the surfing world, and my life was geared around the sport. The covers and inside editorials of surfing and surfer magazines were bursting at the seams: the lifestyle, the pro-surfing circuit, girls in bikinis, surf clothes, surfboards, skateboards and the travel. Surfing icons were being born, young stars were rising out of the grommet stage, and it all centered around Echo Beach, California.
Echo Beach was in my backyard. Life was fast, and I went with the flow as recklessly and hard as I could, but I was a Florida outsider. During that time, West Coast surfers hated East Coast surfers, and I was purposely excluded from many things. I felt hopeless and alone. Inside, my internal life was boiling. My mind twisted and turned, and I could not get my bearings. I was in and out of drugs, and the alcohol never left.
Then, one day, things slowly began to change for me. Lance had a Christian radio station blasting all day long, and it drove me crazy. I seriously could not stand it, but no one in the glass shop, including me, dared to change the station. One morning as a certain Southern-speaking pastor spoke from the radio, I forced myself to listen. His twang irritated me, but I actually began to see my self-destructive path and to look outside my self-centered life.
I knew I needed to change. As the pastor spoke in his Southern drawl, something grabbed my heart. I can’t explain exactly what it was, but it spoke to me and I realized I needed to look at something other than the self-deprecating crutches of drugs and alcohol. He read a verse from the Bible, John 8:32, where Jesus claimed He could set me free: “ then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The message centered on this verse and jumped into my heart. At that instant, I realized I was a slave to my self-pity, my pride, and the drugs and alcohol that were ruining my life. I had let it all happen, and needed to make a better choice. I wanted to understand how I could be set free, and to learn more about the love that Jesus had for my messed up soul.
It was not an instantaneous change. The depth of my daily despair was more than just the hepatitis and my floundered dreams of becoming a world champion surfer. Since my marriage to Lance’s daughter, Duranne, in 1986, my drinking and drugging had reached a peak, but several years went by before my prideful and stone cold heart softened enough to recognize it.
Gradually, through the foundations of the Bible, Bible studies, family and friends, God helped me change my life forever. I was finally set free from my addictions. Life became a joy. I still had setbacks and trials, but I was no longer alone.
Duranne and I have now been married for over 30 years. With guidance and love from my wife and from God, I turned my life around. Life is about learning. It’s about constantly hitting new milestones while new trials and issues are thrown into our paths. It’s about recognizing how much our wrong and selfish choices cost us. I slowly changed and grew in maturity. Most importantly, I changed who I was inside.
Our four beautiful children surf and possess a great love for the ocean and for God. Because much of our family time is spent at the beach, we are o en called “ The Surf Family.” Our daughter, Alexsis, is a married “mermaid” and raising her own little mermaid baby. Daniel, our oldest son, is the brains behind our company’s computerized milling machine and designer of our boards. River is our surf-crazed test pilot who is one of Huntington Beach’s newest 2017 lifeguards. Our youngest son, Dakota, is a strong surfer with his own style who wants nothing more than to be out surfing and having a great time. When River and Dakota get together on long-boards, they take over the waves, hooting, hollering, and encouraging everyone to have a good time.
What was once a living nightmare became the way to a new freedom and love for myself, my family and many others. Teaching and sharing the joy of surfing, love for the ocean, respect for nature, and building the equipment has heightened that love. The pinnacle of this joy and freedom is having Jesus and His Word.
If you are searching for freedom, open God’s Word, the Bible. I promise you, that if your heart truly asks for it, you will be set free. You can only change what is behind you by changing what is before you. I have and have never regretted it.
Give me a call. I am always open to teach someone to surf or paddleboard. Let’s go surfing or make that dream board that you’ve always wanted. We love having friends spend the day with us down at sunny San Onofre to play in the hot sand or surf in the cool ocean.
Aloha and God Bless.