Students serve during spring break

Beach Reach student ministers from East Texas Baptist University (far right) Caleb Dorsey and Uriel Olguin engage spring breakers in conversation on South Padre Island. (Photo: ETBU/Ashley Pollard)

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From the beaches of South Padre Island, to a community in Oklahoma still recovering from disaster, to a building project in Florida, to the inner cities of Detroit and Dearborn, Mich., and East St. Louis, Ill., students from Texas Baptist universities and Baptist Student Ministries on Texas campuses spent spring break serving others.

dbu 6127 beachreach food425Dallas Baptist University student Daniel Moreno serves food to other volunteers during Beach Reach 2014. (DBU Photo)Watching from the sidelines of a “three-on-three” basketball tournament, Krystal Watson, a sophomore at Texas A&M University, saw God at work in the lives of children at Champs Camp in Brownwood as they prayed with each other before and after each basketball game.

The Brownwood Champs Camp was representative of the spring break missions experiences made possibly by Baptist Student Ministries on Texas university campuses, said Brenda Sanders, student missions consultant with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

“They go to share the gospel in word and deed and find that, in the process, they are changed, too,” Sanders said. “As I visited groups and received reports from others, I saw students share their faith for the very first time.  I watched students unconditionally serve special-needs kids. I heard about students building houses and working among the down and out in urban areas. And many of our students served their own peers through Beach Reach. In the process, these students were changed.”

beach reach etbu2 425East Texas Baptist University student Jordan Swearingen prays with others from ETBU at Beach Reach in South Padre Island. (Photo: ETBU/Ashley Pollard)More than 1,000 Texas Baptist students participated in Beach Reach at South Padre Island. They served about 10,000 pancakes, gave free shuttle rides around the community and cleaned up the beaches, which allowed numerous opportunities for conversations about the gospel to occur. Through the spiritual conversations, they recorded 123 professions of faith in Christ, and 36 people were baptized during the two-week effort.

Janelle Daman, a student at University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, noticed a young woman staring at a beach baptism. Daman walked to her, introduced herself and asked if she knew what was happening. The young woman, Saira, said she did not. Daman explained to her what it means to be a Christian, to know that God loves her and Jesus died for her sins.

“She was listening to me so intently and she nodded to me, ‘I want to grow closer’,” said Daman. “So I walked her into the ocean to get closer, and after watching for awhile, she leaned into me and said: ‘I want that. I want to do that.’”

etbu stlous6 toys425East Texas Baptist University Delta Pi Theta member Shelby Perkinson works with children at the Christian Activity Center of East St. Louis, Illinois. (Photo: Courtesy Friendship Baptist Church.)Daman’s youth pastor talked to Saira and her friend, Marie, about what baptism means and what a commitment to Christ entails. The two young women smiled and said that’s exactly what they wanted. They were baptized in the ocean with the other new Christians.

A student group from the University of Texas at Arlington BSM volunteered in Laredo. The students led a Vacation Bible School for children at Iglesia Bautista Santa Fe and presented an evangelism conference 72 youth attended.

“It was encouraging to me to see such a natural discipleship process happen as the students from University of Texas at Arlington got to team up with people in Laredo and share experiences with each other,” said the campus minister at UTA.

wayland beachreach425Wayland Baptist University students participated in Beach Reach to minister to spring breakers in South Padre Island. The trip was coordinated by Baptist Student Ministries.Alejandro Tremillo, a student at UTA, found evangelism to be the hardest but most rewarding part of the entire trip.

“I was scared at first, because I personally had never gone up to strangers and shared the gospel prior to the trip,” he said. “But after practicing throughout the week, I left my fear behind and started sharing with people everywhere comfortably.”

A student group from Prairie View A&M University worked in Moore, Okla., with Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery to help families clean debris caused by tornadoes.

“As Christians, we should live in a mindset that is not centered around ourselves,” said Tiffany Ross, student at Prairie View A&M University. “This mission trip was a great time of reflection on how God is using me, and it helped me to see how I can incorporate service daily into my life.”

wayland mosque425Wayland Baptist University students pose for a picture with members of a Shia mosque in Dearborn, Mich. Students participated in open dialogues about religion with Muslims. They also participated in various evangelical activities in Detroit.Twelve students from Dallas Baptist University served with Habitat for Humanity in Tallahassee, Fla. DBU has a 26-year history of involvement with Habitat for Humanity.

In partnership with students from the University of Notre Dame, the DBU team cleared property to prepare for one home to be built, and they installed siding and a roof on another home.

“All of our students worked together very well, and they all worked very hard, with hearts working unto the Lord,” said Josh Hemby, director of the BSM at DBU. “This was so appreciated by the Habitat employees and other volunteers.”

Another DBU team served with Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery in West, where residents continue to recover from a fertilizer plant explosion last year. The DBU volunteers cleared the home site of a woman whose house was destroyed by the blast and also helped clean out a nursing home damaged by the explosion.

etbu stlous4 rake425Colton Fleet of Friendship Baptist Church, Wendell Raven of Crossroads Baptist Church, Jayton Sanders of Friendship Baptist Church, and Gabrielle Garcia, an East Texas Baptist University student, clean up the yard in front of a home in East St. Louis, Illinois. (Photo: Courtesy Friendship Baptist Church)

Courtesy Friendship Baptist Church

. “This trip encouraged and reminded our students that God can use simple acts of service to show how much he loves those who are in need,” said Matt Robison, director of student services at DBU. “The team was inspired and learned the value of service—and how service is used by God to love others.”

Andrew Briscoe, director of the DBU Center for Service Learning, noted how opportunities to serve others have helped students develop spiritually.

“The students are falling in love with the idea of serving others for God’s glory,” he said.

The Wayland Baptist University Missions Center sponsored a trip to Michigan that involved 15 students. In Dearborn, the students worked with Angel House to minister to Muslims, and in Detroit, they engaged in varied evangelistic outreach activities.

beach reach etbu4 pray425East Texas Baptist University student Jordan Swearingen prays with others from ETBU at Beach Reach in South Padre Island. (Photo: ETBU/Ashley Pollard)A student group from East Texas Baptist University helped two Marshall churches, Crossroads Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church, on mission in East St. Louis, Ill., where they served for a week at the Christian Activity Center. The center provides a safe place where students age 5 to 18 receive tutoring and participate in Bible studies.

The mission trip involved students who attend the churches, as well as representatives from the ETBU service organization, Delta Pi Theta. While in East St. Louis, the students also assisted the Family Living Center, which provides transitional housing for homeless families.

“The students’ understanding of the needs of people and how to minister to them was expanded,” Sanders said. “We are seeing students return to their campuses eager to put what they learned into practice. In that way, the mission trip goes on as students begin to live on mission right where they are.”

Compiled from reports by Texas Baptist Communications, Dallas Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, Wayland Baptist University and other sources.

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