Beach Reach: Partying to Praying

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Editor’s Note: Beach Reach exists to bring the gospel to college students on spring break who are looking for literally anything else. The main goal is to create opportunities for gospel conversations and then be brave and start them! This is done through gospel sharing on the beach during the day and free shuttle rides, free pancakes, and street teams at night. 

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fl. Every spring, Panama City Beach (PCB), Florida, transforms into a hotspot for college students seeking the sun, sand, and parties. Yet, a different kind of gathering takes place, one with a purpose beyond the typical spring break festivities — Beach Reach. This, born in the 1960s, sees Christian college students from across the nation descend on PCB to spread the message of love amidst the spring break chaos.

At the Beach Reach worship center students were asked to get on their knees in a posture of respect and pray and thank God. (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

Originating from a small group’s efforts in South Padre Island, Texas, Beach Reach has since expanded its reach. Offering free shuttle rides, pancakes, and street teams, the mission aims to meet physical needs while sharing the gospel. In 1995, its model extended to PCB, where it continues to make an impact today.

Selina Carrasquillo, a repeat participant now a lead, shares, “My favorite part about BeachReach is being in the van team…there’s an intimacy that is created within the van because they can’t really leave.” Collegiate ministries director Jessica Senasack notes, “God does some really cool stuff…students are different…they stop being scared of sharing their faith.”

Students recount moments where rejections turned into deep conversations about faith and hope. Abigail Meredith from Arkansas Tech University shares a story, saying, “The first person I shared my testimony with and the gospel…they didn’t accept…instead of feeling down, I used that to motivate me…I saw four salvations in that van last night. Six-minute rides turned into 45-minute conversations.”

Young men from various universities prayed at the altar during worship at Beach Reach. (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

At the heart of Beach Reach lies the prayer room. “Prayer is something I struggle with…Being in the prayer room helped me find different ways to communicate with God.” Student Phoebe Coleman reflects.

Madison Wells-James, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland (UMD), adds, “Just reading through Ephesians 6 gave me a lot of encouragement…I have nothing to be afraid of when telling people about the gospel.”

With Beach Reach’s popularity increasing, organizers face the challenge of accommodating increasing numbers while staying true to their mission.

Jessica Senasack says, “Last year, we had 1100 people over three weeks; we’re over 1500 this year. Week 2 ran out of room at Laguna Beach Christian Retreat Center.” Yet, their commitment to reaching more hearts with the message of Christ drives them forward.

Gracie Guzman, a student from University of Maryland in the prayer room, praying for other students on the streets sharing the gospel. (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

As another Beach Reach mission ended, the stories shared by students reflect the transformative power of prayer and genuine conversations, sowing seeds of hope in PCB and beyond.

Morgan Lewis is a Morgan State University student pursuing a degree in Multiplatform Production and a freelance writer. 

Feature photo: Students preparing to leave Panama City following an incredibly fruitful Beach Reach! (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

Beach Reach: “This Whole Thing is Crazy — “But God!”