I’ve been struggling to describe the past week of my life. It seems as though I could talk about it for hours on end (and I have done exactly that), yet somehow all those words still fall short. I’m left racking my brain for something to adequately share how God has moved in my life. I suppose the best form is that of a simple story.
Last semester, I got involved with Rooted, a kids’ ministry program through the Aggie BSM, where I met Chandler Jackson. Over the course of our growing friendship, I shared with her that God was commanding me to take the words of the Great Commission to heart, to go and to make disciples. We prayed that God would give us the opportunities and (for me, anyway) some newfound conversational skills that were clearly lacking. Around mid-February, she mentioned that the BSM was taking a trip to South Padre and I immediately felt called to go. After a couple weeks of logistical chaos, I officially became a member of Beach Reach 2016.
At 5:30 last Saturday morning, I left the comfort zone that is my Chevy Cruze and climbed into a fifteen passenger van with a group of complete strangers. Over the course of seven days which have now blurred together into one amazing experience, these twenty-one strangers have become some of the people I am most comfortable with. We have jammed to Beyonce, shaking van to the point of having people in other cars take videos of us. We have laughed over the silliest things after going entirely too long without sleep. We have proven to every other BSM that Texas A&M will win every yelling match. But most importantly, we have spent a week together with one mind and one purpose: to pour out our hearts to people who desperately need God. Every day, we worked together to drive and navigate vans, serve pancakes, and just hear the stories of some very broken people. At the end of that week, we waded into the ocean, individually surrounded by the same enormous entity, immersed together in God and in the water. We got to watch as new believers were baptized in that water and adopted into the family of our God, welcomed with shouts of joy and overwhelming applause.
I’ll probably never know how those van rides and conversations and free pancakes and prayers impacted many of the people we came across in South Padre. I’ll probably never see Greg or Raphael or Erin or McKenna or any of the other dozens of people I talked to again. But God’s timing is not bound by days or weeks. His work is not confined to Spring Break. I pray that he will continue to bring people into their lives, that he who began a good work in them will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Just as I am confident that he will work in their lives, I am sure that he will work in mine, equipping me to share the love of God and the gospel of Christ to people wherever I’m at.
Beach Reach 2016 has been the greatest spiritual revival I’ve had since I was a junior in high school. Thanks to everyone who played a role in that, but mostly, thanks and praise be to the God who works all things for our good and deemed it fit to work so greatly in my life this past week. Until next year, South Padre.
To Greg: I hope you found someone to talk to, to answer all your questions. I pray for you every day.
To Raphael: I pray that God will break your heart so that you may learn to love him.
To Chandler: Thanks for mentoring me and inviting me on such a phenomenal trip.
To Christa: Thanks for always watching out for all of us and attempting to curb the boys’ craziness.
To Chyla: Thanks for your constant heart of selfless service and love.
To Gazzia: Thanks for your sweet spirit and your gentle manner.
To Lauren: Thanks for your inspiring boldness and for teaching us new dance moves.
To Lindsey: Thanks for your incredible friendship and sharing your heart with me.
To Madi: Thanks for your gentle and kind heart and for always taking our side against Zach.
To Sabrina: Thanks for your heart of love and for having good bone structure.
To Victoria: Thanks for being the Questionable Leader and getting us where we needed to be, if not always on time.
To Chase: Thanks for making us all laugh and for being joyful in all circumstances.
To Colin: Thanks for all your enthusiasm and hype and for letting us watch your frisbee skills.
To Hossein: Thanks for giving me hugs and for your heart of service.
To Jeff: Thanks for your sense of humor and bold heart for the Lord.
To Jonathan: Thanks for your heart of service and pointing out the sketchiness of El Sol De Mexico.
To Mathew: Thanks for sharing your incredible conversations with me and for playing Slug Bug.
To Michael: Thanks for amusing us with your sleep habits and for always having a good attitude.
To Philip: Thanks for entertaining us with your crazy frisbee catches and for having awkward conversations with me at dinner. And also for hosting movie night.
To Rhett: Thanks for driving all our luggage and taping notes on to-go boxes. I hope your fingers feel better now.
To Rogelio: Thanks for being the subject of our memes and cracking me up with your stoicism.
To Trevor: Thanks for your sarcastic humor and volunteering to roll 1200 fork/napkin sets.
To Zach: Thanks for helping me with my professional seat training and for being my big brother.
I love you all.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”