Beach Reach Deepens Faith & Confidence

Editor’s Note: Each year, a group of University of Maryland College Park Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) students spend their spring break participating in a ministry called “Beach Reach.” They share the gospel and pray with other spring breakers in Panama City, Florida. One of the key strategies is offering free van rides and doing street evangelism at night. The UMCP students, along with other college students, including the BSM students from the Naval Academy, over a combined three-week period, gave shuttle rides to 3,708 passengers, shared the gospel 1,903 times, prayed with 2,148 people, and saw 61 people give their life to Jesus! They also followed up with those individuals to help them get plugged into local churches and campus ministries. 

Madison Wells-James served on the UMCP team. Read her testimony below. 

A sixteen-person UMCP BCM team hit the Florida beaches, offering free shuttle service to spring breakers with the goal of sharing the gospel. (photo submitted0

After my second time going, Beach Reach has remained one of the best experiences of my life. Nothing else I’ve done in college has offered me a chance to be on mission for Jesus, fellowship, worship, pray incessantly, and spend time with my brothers and sisters the way this trip does. Beach Reach took me out of my world and pulled my mind, body, and spirit onto the mission field, giving me a jarring reminder of what’s really important in life. ​This year was equally amazing because God was faithful in giving us the boldness and endurance to speak the truth, which led to 1,903 gospel conversations and 61 souls saved. Praise the Lord! I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to experience the Lord using me and all of His servants in powerful and impactful ways on the streets of Panama City, Florida.

One night on our street team, I met a girl named Ray whom I had the chance to share the gospel with. My interaction with her ended up being one of the most fruitful conversions I had throughout the entire week. Although earlier that day, I was dealing with intense spiritual warfare. The enemy attempted to break my confidence and ultimately take away my voice. However, God reminded me that he had already triumphed over the enemy when he placed Ray in my path. My feelings of doubt quickly turned to boldness when the Lord presented an opportunity to minister to someone for His glory. Ray was so gracious and inquisitive; I could tell she wanted to learn more about the faith. We exchanged phone numbers, and I’m praying God continues to work in her life. That night, a seed was planted, which gave me the strength I needed to get through the rest of the week.

After returning home to Maryland, Beach Reach seems like a blip. It came, and it went, and now I’ve resumed the hassle of regular life with homework, responsibilities, and too many emails. God help me. However, Beach Reach isn’t really over because everywhere I go is a mission field. Everywhere I go presents an opportunity to share the free gift of salvation through Jesus. Missions aren’t determined by the place but by the people, and last time I checked, there are people everywhere, desperate for community and relationships. Our responsibility as believers is to help bring them into a relationship with the one true God, our Creator and Savior. College is temporary. Homework is temporary. Work is temporary. Stress is temporary. I try to remember this so that I remain encouraged to share my faith which could change someone’s eternal destiny.

College students spent time each day in a time of worship during Beach Reach. (Madison Wells-James)

1 Timothy 2:4 “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Madison Wells-James is a senior journalism, cinema, and media studies student at the University of Maryland and participates in the BCM with BCM Director Jessica Senesack. MD. 

Cover Photo: Adriana Alonzo, a BCM intern, prepares the van (provided by Jessup Baptist Church) for the free late-night shuttle service.