Monday, March 27

Spring Break 2006 is now history. For the second year in a row, I took a group of students to Panama City Beach, FL as part of about 200 Christian students who were there for a week of beach evangelism. For the week, we were involved in four main activities:

Street Teams - Small groups of students who walked the "strip", talking to Spring Breakers and telling them about the van rides and pancake breakfast. Street teams worked from 8:30 pm until 2:00 am.

Van Rides - Free van rides for those who called in and requested them. The vans would take students anywhere in PCB they wanted to go - a hotel, a club, etc. On the van were Christian students who would strike up conversations with Spring Breakers and look for open doors to share about Christ. The vans ran from 8:30 pm until 2:00 am (or later). Over five nights, about 3,000 Spring Breakers were given van rides. Often, street and van teams would switch off half way through the night.

Prayer Room - During this 8:30 pm until 2:00 am period, there were always about 50 students assigned to pray for the street teams, vans, the Spring Breakers riding the vans (the prayer room was updated on every van load of students), and for requests phoned in by the vans and street teams. There were usually two shifts a night.

Pancake Breakfast - Every morning, we served a free pancake breakfast on the strip for Spring Breakers. Often, appointments were made on the vans for further discussions at the pancake breakfasts. The breakfasts ran from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm. Over four days, we served about 5,000 people.

It was a long and tiring week. A lot of late nights for an old man! But it is a great experience for our students. I don't know of any better "lab" experience in prayer and personal evangelism.

Students are stretched in prayer - They learn not only about extended prayer (few have attempted to pray for over two and a half hours at one time), but about specific, intercessory prayer.

Students are stretched in evangelism - They begin to learn how to see the doors God opens to spiritual conversations, they begin to learn how to articulate their faith and Christian experience, and they begin to see where they are weak and need to grow.

Students are stretched about the reality of sin - Walking the streets of PCB during Spring Break exposes you to a lot of things: Public drunkenness, drug use, vulgarity, lewdness, and more. Often, young people have an idealized view of spring break trips to such places as PCB.

I'm still catching up on sleep and rest. But the Beach Reach trip is worth the effort and short nights. Below is another short essay I wrote about the experience.


Last week, a group of us from ConC spent our Spring Break at Panama City Beach, FL. Now, for many, that sounds like an ideal place to spend Spring Break! But I'm not sure about that. I'm always amazed at the things that happen in a place like Panama City Beach. It is like the city suspends most of the laws for a few weeks every March. The public drunkenness, the under-age drinking, the sexual activity, the drug use, the drunken driving, the "flashing" - on and on it goes.

So what were we doing there? Trying to share God's love and God's Word with those who were there to party. We served pancakes (to almost 5,000 people) and gave free van rides until after 2:00 am every morning (to almost 3,000 people). But the service was given to show God's love practically and to point people to him and to talk to them about his love for them. It was exciting and frustrating and tiring.

In the midst of it all, I was reminded of this phrase from Paul's writings. In writing to Timothy about how to deal with Christians who were wealthy, Paul says the purpose is:

" that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." I Timothy 6:19

Life that is truly life. The Spring-breakers in Panama City Beach thought they were chasing life, that they were really living. But that way of life is really death, really separation from God. Our goal was to point them back to the life that is truly life.

So are you living the life that is truly life? Are you living the life God designed you to live - in relationship to him, in harmony with him and his will? Are you pursuing those things that the world around us says is "really living" but in the end just leave scars in your life and alienation from God?

In C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, an older demon tells his younger apprentice to convince mankind that "real life" is the "stream of immediate sense experiences." That is what the folks partying in Panama City Beach were focusing on - immediate sense experiences. They tried to convince themselves that it was "real life."

But it's not.

Real life is one that is lived as the one who created us designed it. One that is lived in relationship with him. One that is lived in obedience to him.


The NCAA Tournament has been an exciting one. My bracket is shot to pieces. I had Duke, UConn, Nova, and Kansas going to the Final Four. None are there. But you can't help but cheer for George Mason. And the SEC has two teams playing in the Final Four, which always makes the conference look better.


I'll have two fantasy baseball teams going again this summer. One plays in a league with some former students, some campus minister friends, and a friend from high school. We did a live, online draft on Sunday. I must have been watching too much of the George Mason/Connecticut game! After the draft was over and I took a look at what I had done, I hadn't done too well. My other league had their draft over Spring Break, so Yahoo drafted for me. That teams looks much better. Oh well. It's a long season. I can put a team together.


The Major League Baseball season is right around the corner. Though there is one game played on Sunday, I still consider Monday (13 games) as Opening Day. I think it should be a national holiday.

Maybe it will be for me.

No comments: