From Loving TX to New Mexico, back to Loving and then to South Padre Island and back. 2,254 miles of deep conversation, loud music, and seeing God move in the hearts of many during our 2 week spring break.
A good friend of ours Ben Edfeldt, who is the director of the Midwestern State University’s Baptist Student Ministry, asked me if I would be interested in serving as a driver for Beach Reach this year down in South Padre.. Of course I said “YES!” without really even looking or asking what I would be getting myself into or how long it would take to get there, or even what to bring. This was before our church’s youth leader invited our family to go skiing in New Mexico.
So scheduling a week for skiing, completing a final for my eschatology class on the road, and then going down to the beach somewhere to drive college students around sounded “easy.” The skiing was great we had an awesome trip with the youth group. I cannot say enough about the students and how wonderful they were to our kiddos. Aydin and Calyn enjoyed their first time skiing so much that they would get on the bunny slopes before we could even get our skis on. After the ski trip I spent one night at home in my own bed and then a convoy of 3 large church buses filled with 27 students and 2 other drivers picked me up to head south for the next 7 days.
Our trip down consisted of the students hopping from van to van asking and answering questions that were preplanned out by Ben to stimulate conversation and get their minds and hearts focused spiritually for what they were about to enter into. The students had already dedicated to a weekly training that aided in their preparation to have these sometimes deep spiritual conversations. Incase you are unfamiliar with Beach Reach this is a brief summary form http://beachreach.org/ :
“Beach Reach South Padre began in 1980 with 20 students who had a vision to reach their peers during Spring Break. It has progressively developed into the extensive ministry that it is today. Now during Spring Break, hundreds of Christian college students join together to verbally share the gospel of Jesus with those they encounter as they seek to meet their physical needs for food and transportation.”
So the student’s task each day and late nights was to interact and engage in spiritual conversations with college students that have traveled from all over the country to “cut loose” and “burn off some stress.” To do this we would have to be up when they are up so our group would go to a worship service/meal for “Beach Reachers” each evening at about 5pm and we would mostly be up until about 4:30 am. We would typically wake up about 10 and nap when we could. We stayed in Port Isabel at the First Baptist Church just on the other side of the bridge to South Padre. They were so amazing and hospitable. I think this church housed about 150 or so of us. Some facts and figures from our trip: about 1,000 BSM students went with 95 vans to give about 20,300 college Spring Breakers free rides that lead to about 9,700 spiritual conversations, leading to BSM students praying with and for 8,800 students which led to 140 New Believers. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences I have witnessed so far in my life.
A short story to share happened right outside of our van before we went on our shift. Three men approached our van and asked for a ride. I eventually said “Sure but I have to wait till we go on shift in like 5 minutes” so they waited. Standing there they began to chit chat about being Christians and how they grew up in church. I asked “Then what are you doing here?” Our conversation continued and about anhour later I heard form another BSM student that those young men after being dropped off by us quickly caught another bus home. I don’t know what happened to them after that but I pray that moment was the moment the Holy Spirit wrecked their world and made them run back to Him to find that He never left. Something that was also inspiring and amazing is how these BSM students had intentionally sacrificed their time and finances to proclaim the Gospel to their peers. Instead of relieving their stresses from school serving themselves, they chose to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. Serving alongside young men and women who are on fire for the Lord you can’t help but come away inspired.
On our way home I got to truly reflect over the last week and thinking of all the conversations and efforts that had gone into Beach Reach2017. The Lord really showed me that it’s not us who saves anyone, it’s the Holy Spirit. We can lay out the message as perfect as we want but it is not up to us. All we are to do is be obedient in proclaiming the Gospel to the world and leave it up to Him.
Please be in prayer for these BSM students. That they would continue to follow wherever the Lord will lead them. Both of these ministries (the BSM and Beach Reach), and thank God for our new brothers and sisters in Christ that they would be able to get plugged into a ministry on their campuses, and for volunteer drivers and vans for Beach Reach 2018.