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ETBU Students Serve Across Texas on Spring Break

March 22, 2024

East Texas Baptist University students showcased their dedication to service and mission work during spring break as they engaged in projects across Texas. A group of students from ETBU's Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) spent the week in South Padre Island for Beach Reach, while others participated in disaster recovery mission work through the BOUNCE ministry in Katy, Texas.

Fifteen student leaders from ETBU's BSM traveled to South Padre Island, Texas, from March 8-15 for week two of Beach Reach. Alongside other devoted "Beach Reachers" from various regions, these students dedicated their time to displaying the love of Christ to spring breakers by serving 15,362 pancakes, providing 16,027 safe rides, engaging in 11,795 Gospel conversations, and offering prayers to 9,198 individuals, as reported by Texas Baptists (BGCT). The collective efforts during this two-week mission led to 276 salvations, 94 recommitments, and 79 baptisms on the beach.

"I love taking students on Beach Reach because it is a trip focused on carrying out Jesus' great commission," Director of Baptist Student Ministry David Griffin said. Students receive experience in Gospel-sharing, participate in practice exercises, and then have the opportunity to implement those new skills while interacting with spring breakers. All of these opportunities allow for a deeper education they will hopefully utilize for the rest of their lives."

Throughout the day, BSM students engaged with spring breakers on the streets and beaches of the island. Some students joined in friendly football or volleyball games, using these moments to connect with spring breakers and openly discuss their motivations for mingling, conversing, and offering prayers. Additionally, the BSM students provided complimentary shuttle rides, creating opportunities for "Beach Reachers" to share the Gospel and distribute information about upcoming events and activities.

"I always come away from trips like Beach Reach impressed with our students," Dr. Griffin said. "They spend their entire spring break serving in a physically and emotionally exhausting way. Uniquely, stepping away from campus allows me to see our students’ talents and personalities in ways that are not always possible on campus. Our students are incredible, and I am excited to think of how they will one day spread out across the world as graduates and impact countless churches and communities."

Beach Reach began in 1980 with 20 students who had a vision to reach their peers and serve the city of South Padre during spring break. The special missions emphasis has progressively developed into the extensive ministry it is today.

BOUNCE is a program through Texas Baptists that offers student ministry leaders the opportunity to mobilize their students to engage in challenging mission service and inspiring times of worship. ETBU students joined Dean of Spiritual Life Scott Stevens and several high school student ministry groups in disaster recovery mission work in Katy, Texas, March 10-13. The team spent time rebuilding a fence for a single mother and her family.

"You never know the impact you will have when you go on mission," Dr. Stevens said. "The physical work was accomplished, which was great and an amazing benefit for the mom. But the relationships that were built and the conversations that were had will be used by God. I'm so glad that ETBU provides these opportunities for our students."

The ETBU students had the opportunity to pray with the homeowner and share encouraging notes with the family while also rebuilding the fence to give the children a safe place to play outside. The ETBU Bounce students also spent time with the high school girls who worked on the project with them during the week. They were able to encourage them in their walk with God and pray with them.

"It was such a unique opportunity," junior English major Andrea Latham said. "This is my second year serving with BOUNCE during spring break. I enjoy serving people through construction and building things. It was special this year to be able to pour into the young women who were working with us. The Lord used us in a way I wasn't expecting. We were really able to connect with them and mentor them."