My decision to participate in Beach Reach came only after I had said to several people, “I’m curious about it, but honestly, there’s like a 10% chance I’ll go.” I have found that God tends to communicate with me in sudden, powerful, unexpected ways, and despite my previous feelings, I felt strongly led towards saying yes to Beach Reach one night. A couple weeks later, I found myself on a van headed towards Panama City Beach feeling nervous and skeptical, but also hopeful and expectant. I have always struggled with my feelings towards street evangelism; the idea of talking to random people about Jesus strikes me as impersonal and ineffective. However, I knew that Beach Reach would provide me with ample opportunity to sort through those feelings while actively participating in evangelism.
As the week progressed, I had my assumptions challenged and my compartmentalized view of the world reshaped. My heart broke over and over for the Spring Breakers that we met who were hurting and searching for meaning. Our interactions in Panama City Beach disrupted my perception that people always react to faith conversations with suspicion. Almost everyone we encountered was open to sharing about their experiences with faith and equally inclined to ask about my own. During one of his messages, Nate said that oftentimes, people either share the gospel verbally or fight for justice as Jesus did; rarely do we come across individuals who wholeheartedly do both. Getting to serve Spring Breakers with the free van rides while having faith conversations gave me a small taste of what it feels like to integrate both sharing the gospel and living it out.
I had my assumptions challenged and my compartmentalized view of the world reshaped.
Beach Reach helped me to trust that Jesus is the most powerful, transformative, life-giving force on earth, and encouraged me to constantly seek opportunities to share that with others. It gave me a clearer picture of what I want my faith to look on a daily basis living in Minneapolis; simultaneously serving my neighbor and fearlessly sharing the hope that is found in Jesus. -Emily