By Aaron Brask
Launch Campus Ministry Intern
College spring break is standardized as getaways with close friends, suspending academic preoccupations, and stress-free relaxation before the final leg of the semester. One of the largest spring break destinations in the United States is Panama City Beach, Florida—known for its extensive house parties, beachfront bars and world-famous nightclubs. Cities like this swell with young adults during the month of March, and unfortunately it’s during this time that many Christian students choose to pause their intentionality while their peers engage in risky and taboo behavior. In an inverted effort, campus ministries across the country equip teams of young believers and travel to the epicenter of this party hub on what is often retrospectively labeled as the most intense week of evangelism and spiritual warfare of their lives.
A week spent on Beach Reach has three preeminent goals: provide spring breakers free transportation as a substitute for driving intoxicated or taking overpriced alternatives; exercise our call to the Great Commission in such a way that it becomes implemented into our everyday lives, in unison with Paul’s 1 Corinthians 9 encouragement; put ourselves in position to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in a transient yet spiritually desolate community, as seen numerous times throughout scripture. In a practical sense, the focused evangelical portion of each day occurs in four concurrent and complimentary rotations between 9:00 pm and 2:00 am. Street teams engage with spring breakers outside and increase awareness of the free shuttle service. “The Base” fields calls and regulates pick-up/drop-off instructions for the shuttles. A van team then provides the group transportation while seeking to engage in Gospel conversations. A prayer team simultaneously receives live updates and fervently prays over the interactions.
Launch Campus Ministry at Purdue University has sent students to Panama City nearly every year over the last two decades. The exception this year was not in sending a team, but rather in the way the Lord used us to impact the lives of others. On two separate occasions, our group helped lead someone to Christ after previously engaging with them that week—these unintended and consecutive interactions were nothing short of divinely inspired. Twelve students accepted Christ as a result of the Holy Spirit working through us (more than quadruple that of any other year), and many other gospel conversations took place. Launch was one of ten campus ministries that were collectively used by God to lead around 75 people to Christ this past March. We witnessed the undeniable power of unified prayer, watched God work through those that made themselves available to Him, and gained an acute sense of how the Spirit will permeate and saturate efforts that are aligned with and submitted to the Father’s will.
Beach Reach is not another superfluous trip to fill space on the calendar. Physical needs are met, the Gospel is shared, lives are saved for eternity, and Christ is magnified. This is the heart of Beach Reach, and this is the heart of college ministry.