Nov 30, 2015
Spring Break Trips that Change Your Ministry
My sophomore year in college changed my life forever.
I had originally chosen to go to the University I was attending to play basketball. I played for a season, and then by God’s grace, basketball was removed from my life. I can now see that God used basketball to get me to this particular school so that he could then take it away from me, provide the means for me to stay at the school and then put three men in my life who would help me see that I had embraced a watered-down, censored version of Christianity and the Bible.
One of those men was my college pastor, Kevin Inman. Prior to my sophomore year I didn’t know him very well. That changed when he asked me to go with him and some other college students on a spring break mission trip called Beach Reach. This was the first mission trip I had ever been on and it changed my life forever.
There are two ways in particular that Beach Reach impacted my life. First, it was a sort of fast track entrance into community with other believers that I did not already have. Spending a week with about 40 other college students on a mission trip in Panama City Beach, FL has a way of bonding people together! Second, it immersed me in a setting where everyday, multiple times a day, I was sharing the gospel with other college students. When I got back to campus, my mindset was completely different. I now knew what it was like to be intentional in pursuing opportunities to share my faith with others. And, for me personally, that week in 2004 is what the Lord used to begin opening my eyes to His call on my life to go into ministry.
Fast-forward 11 and a half years later. I’m taking a group of college students to Beach Reach for the 7th time. Why? Because I have found that spring break trips that push students to share the gospel with other college students not only have a significant impact on the lives of the students in our ministry, but they also have a significant impact on our ministry’s effectiveness in reaching our campus.
I’m working on my 10th year of doing college ministry. During that time I’ve noticed a few things about college students when it comes to personal evangelism. First of all, many of them have never shared their faith with a non-Christian before. Even though the students in your ministry are having all kinds of conversations with other believers about the gospel, many of them are not doing that with people who don’t know Jesus. Secondly, most of them are scared to share their faith. There are various reasons for this, but I’d say the number one reason is the fear of being rejected. Third, many college students simply do not know how to share their faith. It’s not so much that they don’t know how to explain the gospel; it’s more so that they don’t know how to start the conversation.
There is obviously a ton of ways to teach/train/equip/help students with this throughout the year, but the most effective tool that I’ve found in helping students to be better at sharing the gospel is taking a spring break trip (like Beach Reach) where students are immersed in the activity for a week. It is sort of like trying to learn a new language. You can take classes that teach you how to speak it, but until you are immersed in a context where you have to speak the language everywhere you go, you’re probably not going to learn it. Beach Reach (and other mission trips like it) will have that effect on your students. Each year, the month of April is one of our ministry’s most fruitful months when it comes to seeing students come to know Christ. I believe that happens in a large part because of the type of spring break trip we do.
Check out this video of Austin sharing why Beach Reach is so important to him and his ministry: