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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a mission trip called Beach Reach. This ministry was started in 1980 by a surfer turned Baptist Student Ministry Director named Buddy Young. Buddy’s strategy over the years has been to minister and share the gospel with college students who come to South Padre for Spring Break. Buddy’s focus is Servant Evangelism. He and other BSM student groups help clean the beach every morning. Free van rides are offered to students on Spring Break and BSM students use this opportunity to share the gospel. Texas Baptist Men provides a free pancake breakfast each morning to students, many who are short on cash and couldn’t afford a meal.
Our own UNT BSM took 33 students and adults in 3 vans on an 11-hour journey to South Padre. We were greeted with cloudy skies, cool temperatures and thousands of students on Spring Break. We were welcomed by 1,000-plus Beach Reachers from BSM’s across the state and two local churches who were committed to reaching South Padre and Port Isabel for Christ.
Our second night on the island, I was driving a van on the 11 pm to 4 am shift. (Yes we do run vans that time of the night.) We picked up a young lady from Iowa. She had driven 25 hours with her boyfriend, and two other friends and arrived earlier in the day. We provided her a ride on the van and she shared her story with one of our BSM students. After settling into their condominium, she and her friends cleaned up and got ready to go out to eat. While the young lady was putting on her makeup, she and her boyfriend got into a fight and he left with the car. She and her girlfriend decided to go and eat without him. Following the meal the young lady went in search of her boyfriend and the car. When we picked her up she had walked and run alone for 3 miles. As I listened to the conversation, I could sense that our BSM student was deeply concerned about the girl. She got to know her and listened intently then proceeded to move the conversation to talk about spiritual things. The young lady was not committed to any church. Our BSM student shared the gospel with her but the young lady was not ready to receive it. As she got ready to leave the van, one of the girls asked if she could pray for her. Our rider consented and the student then prayed for her situation. As the young girl got out I could see she had a tear in her eye. As a father of a daughter her age, my heart broke for this young lady who had come 25 hours to have fun but had been confronted with the realities of life.
Throughout the week we had several other conversations with young men and women who had come to have fun but were confronted with difficult and costly situations. It was in those times that our trained compassionate students listened to their stories and shared the gospel with them. I was glad to be a part of a group of students who were offering the hope of Jesus Christ to students who had come to have fun and party, but were lost and alone. It was in those moments that I came to realize that there is hope for the future. There are students all across our state who are maturing in Christ through Collegiate Ministry, Baptist Student Ministry’s and local churches learning how to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a broken world. Because of students like these, I know there is hope for the future.