Reach21 encourages BSM students to minister in their own neighborhoods

by Bonnie Shaw on March 29, 2021 in Great Commission

Over Spring Break, 804 Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) students and leaders went out into their communities to make an impact through Reach21. Many of these BSMs usually participated in Beach Reach, an annual BSM outreach event that takes place on South Padre Island to minister to college students on Spring Break. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Beach Reach was converted into Reach21, which sent BSM students out into their colleges’ communities to meet needs in their own neighborhoods.

“The two weeks were excellent because we were still able to send our students on mission. Our BSMs really embraced the idea that the mission was not canceled, and they still found ways to serve, whether they stayed local or traveled, met in big groups or small, they made it work,” Brenda Sanders, director of Go Now Missions, Texas Baptists’ student missions ministry, explained.

BSMs were encouraged to look around their college campuses to see the needs that were within “reach.” Some grouped together to reach their city and foster collaboration and relationships among the students. All of the BSMs mentioned how special the weeks felt as they met needs in their own backyards.

“One of the things we heard over and over again from students and staff serving in their towns is that they had no idea that these needs were in their own towns and that it was very eye-opening,” Sanders said. “The connections they have made with local ministries and local churches has been amazing.”

Many of them BSMs are planning to extend their outreach beyond Spring Break to continue meeting needs in their communities.

Sharing the Gospel to different cultures

The Sam Houston State University BSM traveled to Houston, TX to serve alongside Global Gates, a ministry that seeks to reach the ends of the earth through global gateway cities, such as Houston. They had a chance to learn about and experience a variety of cultures and religions including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Each day they learned about different world religions, how to evangelize to these people groups, and were even able to interact in apartment ministry.

On their last day, the students went to an apartment complex that had immigrant and refugee families from many different cultures. The students were able to minister to the women and children there, with the boys providing childcare through fun activities and the girls hosting a spa day for the women. The girls shared Bible stories through henna tattoos, and one of the women at the spa day heard the Gospel and gave her life to Christ that day.

“This was an amazing opportunity to love on these women in a way that they have never been loved, which produced the ability to speak about the truth and love of Jesus to these women. It was so exciting to see the joy these women had from us wanting to serve them,” Sydney, a BSM student, shared. “Once the women were able to relax, they were able to smile, sing and even dance while we served and talked about Jesus.”

Fort Worth BSMs

To reach Fort Worth, four BSMs banded together to participate in “For the Fort.” Students from Tarleton State University, Texas Christian University, Sul Ross State University and Tarrant County Community College in Trinity River worked together, spreading out across the city to make a big impact.

“We had teams all throughout Tarrant County doing a host of things,” Warren Ethridge, director of Texas Christian University’s BSM, explained.

They completed 13 projects, including serving teachers at an elementary school, furnishing a refugee family’s apartment, building a fence and painting a park. As they worked, they looked for opportunities to share the Gospel. They also prayer-walked local college campuses and ended each day worshipping at a different local church.

Looking beyond Spring Break

El Paso BSM tackled a few projects throughout their Spring Break, including prayer-walking the campuses of The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College (EPCC). While prayer-walking EPCC, they encountered a former student, “Daniel,” on campus and had an hour-long Gospel conversation with him. At the end of the conversation, Daniel said that his heart felt like it was open to the Gospel for the first time.

The BSM also worked at Jardin de Milagros, a local ministry which raises fresh vegetables to help feed those facing food insecurity in the city. They strive to provide nutritious farm-fresh vegetables to the community, and BSM students were able to help that mission by planting 2,500 onions. Hunter Ballew, director of El Paso BSM, said that they would continue their partnership with Jardin de Milagros throughout the year.

“The week was really good for us, and one thing that we talked about afterward is the opportunities that we have available throughout the year. There’s a ton of ministry to do in El Paso and a lot of lost people here,” Ballew shared. “It really opened our eyes to the opportunities we have at home.”

For more information about Go Now Missions, go to gonowmissions.org.

Read more articles in: Great Commission, Go Now Missions, Collegiate Ministry

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