Conversation: Chris Neau
Chris Neau, 27, is embarking on a career as a professional fisherman with the BASS national federation. During the past 12 years, Neau has been mastering fishing, saving money for a boat and completing a college degree while pursuing a call to use pro fishing as a platform to share Jesus Christ. Recently, Neau spoke with Associate Editor Kirk Noonan about his trek into the professional fishing ranks.
tpe: How did this calling to fish come about?
NEAU: When I was 15 the Bassmaster Classic came to New Orleans. As my dad and I sat in the Superdome and watched the weigh-in, tears welled in my eyes as the presence of the Lord came upon me. I knew God wanted to use me in professional bass fishing. Since then IÕve been pursuing it.
tpe: How did you go about turning that calling into reality?
NEAU: I kept fishing, going to school and working in the grocery business. Through my job I was able to buy a Ranger Z series boat and a truck. Some weeks IÕd work 55 to 60 hours a week. Now I do bass seminars for love offerings. ItÕs been a long process, but IÕll never give up on what God has called me to do.
tpe: So, for you, thereÕs a lot more to being a professional fisherman than just fishing?
NEAU: ItÕs really about putting God first and just being around anglers who I can minister to. Of course I want to win tournaments, but this isnÕt about fame, fortune and glory; itÕs about representing and sharing Christ.
tpe: Your dad [George Neau] is an Assemblies of God minister who has spent much time ministering in the inner city; do you have a heart for the inner city too?
NEAU: When I was a kid, having someone take me to the lake to fish made me feel like a million dollars. I want inner-city kids to feel that way too, so on a regular basis IÕll be holding fishing camps for them each summer. WeÕll go to a lake, have a weigh-in and give away plenty of prizes. In the process, we hope to earn the right to share the gospel with them. (For more information visit: www.chrisneaufishing.com.)
tpe: How will you stay spiritually focused being away from your home church, family and friends during tournaments?
NEAU: I pray by phone with my dad before every major tournament. I also attend church in the cities where I fish and I have a prayer time and Bible study every day. Without God at the center of this, my dream will completely fall apart.
tpe: When you tell people youÕre called to be a professional fisherman, what has been their reaction?
NEAU: IÕve had many people — even Christians — say fishing wonÕt pay the bills; itÕs a waste of time. But IÕd say no matter what God has called you to do, donÕt let go of it no matter what anyone says.
tpe: What other advice do you give people who have an extraordinary or unique call on their lives?
NEAU: Never let go of your God-given dreams.
tpe: You call New Orleans your hometown. Have you been back since Hurricane Katrina?
NEAU: I love the city of New Orleans. My father and I flew back to the city a few weeks after Katrina. I fought back tears as we drove for miles looking at the devastation. I want the people of the Gulf Coast to know my heart and my prayers are with them. New Orleans will always be my home.
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.