College students involved with Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) ministries across Arkansas are spending their spring break serving others and sharing about Jesus in various contexts across the country.
Participating in Beach Reach at Panama City Beach, Florida, through March 24, there are 130 Arkansas college students and leaders. Beach Reach is a partnership between college ministries all over the nation to serve other college students on spring break. They utilize vans and buses to give free shuttles to students around town.
“While giving rides, we have the opportunity to ask about their beliefs in God and share with them the true gospel of Jesus Christ,” Emma Burns, 19, of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, said. “Before this trip began, I questioned whether college aged students would be willing to engage in conversations with us. But to my surprise, they were more than willing. It just goes to show how broken people are and how desperately they are searching for answers. This has burdened my heart for my generation and their need for a Savior.”
This was Burns’ first time to participate in a spring break missions trip. It was something she wanted to be a part of for an opportunity to share her testimony and the gospel and have a specific place to do it.
“I was nervous to attend this trip because I felt young and unequipped to share the gospel with my peers, but this week I have recognized how self-centered it would be to think that I shouldn’t share the gospel until I feel ready. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and it has shown me how easy it is to share the gospel and pray over people. This type of ministry is important because we quickly recognized the repeated pattern of college students claiming to be followers of Christ when they were young but have fallen away from it in college. This trip has allowed us to ask students what they truly believe and help them recognize the lies that convince them that they cannot easily accept Jesus again or for the first time,” Burns said.
Another attending Beach Reach for the first time was Avery Pennington, a freshman at the University of Arkansas at Monticello from Crossett.
“It has been absolutely amazing to see how the Lord is working in all of our lives. Being part of this has given me great opportunities to share the word with people I normally wouldn’t interact with. Beach Reach has pushed me out of my comfort zone for the good,” Pennington said.
It was also the first time for Caelyn Pettis, 18, of Central Baptist College and Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway to participate in a spring break trip like this.
“This experience so far has been absolutely amazing. I have been evangelizing through a shuttle bus and walking the street asking people how we can pray for them and presenting the Good News of Jesus to everyone we can reach. Through this trip God has helped me understand the urgency of the gospel because Christ’s return is imminent,” Pettis said.
Through this ministry, Pettis said Woodland Heights Baptist Church has “just been trying to share the love of Jesus to the lost and the saved all around (Panama City Beach).”
“People have been able to see this love and they have been mostly receptive to the gospel conversations and prayers,” Pettis said. “This is something I wanted to be a part of because God has been calling me to step out of my comfort zone and share God’s ultimate love for us. This is such an important ministry because we are going directly to the people indulging in the flesh that only leads to death, and we are presenting Jesus who provides eternal life through believing He died for us while allowing Him to be Lord over our life. This ministry does not just end with Panama City Beach (PCB), but this ministry is to be taken to the ends of the earth. We want everyone to experience Jesus and for Heaven to be rich in believers and praises to the Lord.”
Katie Veazey, 19, a student at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock, said it has been incredible getting to share the gospel with people and see the impact of prayer and the Holy Spirit.
“I’ve seen the power of prayer firsthand on this trip in a way that I haven’t very much before and it was very impactful,” Veazey said. “I wanted to come because I had such a good experience last year. I think this is a really important experience for people who are taking the next step in their relationship with God because these conversations should be happening throughout your life, and this is a great way to force yourself to start.”
Last year, there were 80 from Arkansas serving at Beach Reach who had 2,280 shuttle passengers on 472 different shuttle rides. There were 1,117 gospel conversations and 1,302 people prayed for in that week of ministry resulting in 27 professions of faith. They are hoping to have even more impact this year.