This year during spring break, MWSU Christian Challenge had the opportunity to participate for the second year in a row in an exciting spring break mission opportunity called Beach Reach. We partnered with Baptist Collegiate Ministries from Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Maryland to form a team of about 250 who took the Gospel to the spring break party crowd at Panama City Beach, Florida. Each night Sunday through Thursday, we joined a fleet of 19 shuttles that offered free rides from 9pm to 2:30 or 3am. Our team of 15 students and campus ministry staff took turns riding in our 2 vans, prayer walking the PCB strip, and praying in the prayer room at Laguna Beach Christian Camp.
All total, our week of Beach Reach gave 2,708 rides to passengers, had 1,903 Gospel conversations, prayed for 2,148 people, and saw 61 decisions for Christ! Our vans in particular offered prayer for 280 and shared the gospel with 235 of those students! It was an incredible week of gospel seed sowing, and the Lord truly worked in the hearts of our team doing this time.
There are a lot of stories that have been shared by our team, but two stories from the week really stand out to me. During the first night of shuttle rides, one of our students struck up a conversation with a guy named Corey. He is an agnostic or maybe even an atheist, but he talked with and listened to Spencer from our team. At one point, I heard Spencer verbally walking through the 3 Circles Gospel presentation with him. At the end of the ride, we prayed for him and parted ways. Reflecting on it, Spencer really was excited about the conversation, but had no idea if it would make any impact. The last night of ministry for the week, Spencer was on a street prayer team near one of the night clubs when he heard someone yell his name. Wondering who in the world would know him down there, he turned to see Corey flagging him down. Corey proceeded to tell him that he had been thinking about their conversation all week! Who knows what the Lord is up to in Corey’s life, but we’re praying that He who began a good work in him will carry it to completion through saving faith in Christ! Our hope and prayer is that many seeds planted like this will bear fruit.
As campus minister, my usual nighttime ministry job for the week was driving one of our 15 passenger vans. I didn’t get to have too many deep conversations, but I did pray for a number of passengers, and I got to listen and pray for our team as they talked. I’ll not soon forget “John, party of 3” that we picked up to take the club one night. We were shocked when we pulled up and discovered that this was a group of three girls, not three guys. As Jozlin from our team started talking with one of the girls, I heard the girl say, “I have so much conviction just getting in the van tonight.” She had grown up going to church and even attends pretty regularly now, but she knew that she was doing things during the week that she shouldn’t be doing. She said that if her Grandma, who had taken her to church and invested so much in sharing the hope of Christ with her as a child, would call her right then, she would be so ashamed to admit what she was doing and how she was dressed. My heart broke for this young lady, and I had to wonder how many more students had a very similar story.
This week in PCB reminded our team that taking the good news of Jesus to college students is an urgent ministry. Many spring breakers at PCB were on the brink of life altering decisions involving alcohol and relationships, and we had an opportunity to speak the hope of Christ into their situations, right where they were.
We are so thankful to the churches and individuals who prayed for us and supported the trip this year. Please continue to pray for seeds of the Gospel to bear fruit—even though we’ll likely never know the impact. And please pray for our team as we continue to reacclimate to “civilian” life back home. Pray that we’ll be as bold and faithful to share the gospel at home on our campus and among our friends and family as we were while we were at Panama City Beach for the week. To God be the glory!