Baptist Student Ministry students from the University of Houston joined other Christians from all over Texas to serve at Beach Reach, giving their spring break to share God’s love. Beach Reach is an annual mission experience that reaches thousands of college students who flock to the South Padre Island in search of a good time. Close to a thousand missionaries served at Beach Reach this year, showing God’s love by means of pancakes, free rides and open ears.
Despite the spiritual darkness that was discernibly present on the island, God moved mightily through the conversations and relationships formed in moments shared between missionaries and vacationers.
When speaking with beach-goers, missionaries sparked meaningful conversations with simple questions: “How would you rate your relationship with God?” “How do you see God in your life?” Those questions led to opportunities for the missionaries to share the gospel.
Kayla Ortiz, a senior at UH, returned to Beach Reach for her third year in a row. Throughout the week, Ortiz and a group of Houston student missionaries prayed for students at the local police station, served pancakes at popular beach bars, and shared the gospel with passengers on a free Beach Reach shuttle.
“With Beach Reach, my life has always come back changed. This year I was excited to see what God would do in my life. I knew God was going to do something,” Ortiz said.
Another highlight of the week were the nightly worship services. Before going out to minister each evening, missionaries first gathered together to pray, worship and share testimonies of God’s work. Community amongst missionaries grew quickly during these times of vulnerable worship. Students arrived at the worship services “desperate for God’s fuel” and experienced something “so beautiful and refreshing,” Ortiz said.
After the powerful week, missionaries went home with a new passion for sharing the gospel on their college campuses. Beach Reach equipped the student missionaries with tools on how to evangelize and reach other students who may have never heard the good news.
“It’s reignited my passion to make sure that people understand the urgency of the gospel,” Ortiz said. “It’s something that I’m hoping I can be even more intentional about bringing to campus.”
Claire Andersen is a student at the University of Houston