The combined missions efforts of Texas Baptists over Spring Break involved more than 1,400 middle, high school and college students engaged in ministry across the United States. Projects ranged from rebuilding homes in Houston damaged by Hurricane Harvey, providing free van rides and pancakes to fellow college students in South Padre Island and engaging in evangelistic efforts alongside church planters in New York City.
In response to the unprecedented disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey, BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery focused on serving the Texas Gulf Coast in recovery efforts for 2018. Around five hundred middle school and high school students from 25 Texas Baptists churches spent a week helping Houston bounce back from disaster. The students and leaders completed projects on 27 sites installing drywall, insulation, siding, painting and flooring involving 14,310 man-hours.
“I really wanted to help the people in need, rebuilding their houses,” said Hudson Grace, seventh grader from First Baptist Church of Corsicana. “I’ve seen why people have had to abandon this neighborhood and why they’re trying to rebuild it as fast as they can. God has really pushed us to help and has taught me to be grateful for the things you have, because in an instant they can be gone.”
Over the course of the week, students engaged in 37 Gospel presentations, resulting in 15 decisions for Christ.
“I’m very encouraged by the highly motivated students we have with us at BOUNCE,” said David Scott, director of BOUNCE. “They are working hard without complaint as they serve the residents of Houston. As always, it is our hope that this won’t be something that our students do for a couple of days at Spring Break, but that missions will become a part of who they are.”
Through a partnership with Go Now Missions and the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, Texas Baptists students partnered with church planters in evangelistic efforts in the largest city in the United States. For Spring Break this year, Go Now Missions coordinated 10 groups totalling 125 students and leaders through an effort called “TX Week in NYC.” Over the week, students partnered with local church planters, ethnic ministries and a human trafficking ministry across the city’s numerous boroughs.
While prayer walking around the community of Woodside, Keeley McKinney, a student from Howard Payne University, was feeling discouraged one day. She walked into a local restaurant with a few teammates and met two people. After listening to their stories, Keeley was able to pray for them. “I felt so called by God,” she said. “In that moment, God said ‘this is why you are here and this is your place to pray for them.’”
Beach Reach at South Padre Island began in 1980 with 20 students who had a vision to reach their peers during Spring Break. It has progressively developed into the extensive ministry that it is today. Every year since, hundreds of Texas BSM students travel to the island. All throughout the night, students give free van rides to college students on Spring Break, ensuring their safety while having intentional Gospel conversations.
This year, between 676 Beach Reachers and two disaster relief teams, 13,897 van rides were given and 10,100 pancakes were served. The spiritual impact of the week included 8,934 Gospel conversations, 167 salvations, 55 baptisms and 47 recommitments to Christ.
When they’re not giving van rides, students cleaned the beach early in the morning, evangelized in the afternoon and partnered alongside Texas Baptist Men to serve free pancakes.
“Going on Beach Reach shows you that it’s hard to share your faith for a number of reasons, whether that’s fear of man, lack of faith or limiting the power of the Holy Spirit,” said Jaycee Porter, Dallas Baptist University student. “But this week, through my van, I learned what it truly looks like to plead with the Lord on behalf of someone else, to plead for their very soul! Although I didn’t get to witness anyone put their faith in Jesus, my perspective on the power of the Gospel, and the ability I have to beg the Lord for salvation has been forever changed.”
Click here to download a video about Beach Reach to play in your church.
Another missions effort through the BSM at the University of Texas at Arlington involved community ministry in San Antonio. Gary Stidham, UTA BSM director shared, “We took a number of international believers for their first missions experience. They got great training and first-hand experience in Gospel-sharing that they can take back to their home countries.”
In addition to these missions efforts, additional Baptist Student Ministries served through Mission Arlington; worked with refugees in the Metroplex; provided Harvey relief in Houston and Rockport; assisted with Vacation Bible Schools in Nacogdoches, TX and New Orleans, LA; did community ministry in Sherman and San Antonio; and more.