Spring break is often a time when college students from around the country descend on warmer climates, like our great state, to take advantage of its many tourist destinations.
But for college students connected to our Florida Baptist churches and Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), spring break provides a unique opportunity for them to engage in Christ’s mission through organizations such as Send Relief of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB) to serve and share the Gospel with those who need it most.
From March 2nd to the 23rd more than 150 students from nine of our state universities and the Baptist College of Florida ministered and shared the Gospel across our state, our nation, and even the globe. Florida Baptist students experienced ministry ranging from hurricane clean up in the Panhandle, to working alongside local churches and planters in Canada, London, Mexico, and the Balkans.Sara Host, a student leader in the BCM at Florida State University from Crystal River, was able to experience God at work in Montreal by her participation in the GenSend spring break mission program through Send Relief. “By going on a short-term mission’s trip to Montreal, eyes are opened to the spiritual darkness in that region,” she said. “Short-term trips like these help students understand the urgency and need for the Gospel to go to lost places.”Trips like the one Sara participated in are designed around serving alongside local missionary church planters.
Eddie Gilley, BCM director at the University of Florida, not only encourages students to participate in programs such as GenSend, but to also to go on spring break trips with their local church partners in Gainesville. “We love sending students with local churches who are on mission because they are members of these local churches,” he said. “We partner together so that students can have more options to serve in different ways and many local churches even form teams together. It’s a definite win for everyone!”Zach Allen, college Pastor at Westside Baptist Church, has been taking college students over seas in partnership with the BCM at the University of Florida for several years now. “Our mission trip to London is strategic for our spring semester as we develop and train students to be deployed in a global city for a week,” he shared. “There’s a tremendous amount of encouragement and help that our students provide to the IMB team for that week. The two great byproducts we see are eyes opened to the lostness of the world, and hearts equipped with the Gospel. As a result of time spent in a post-Christian city like London, the students are compelled to engage their campus more effectively here in Gainesville.”
Providing mission trip opportunities that allow university students to experience how God is at work among the nations is a significant way that the BCM in partnership with national Southern Baptist entities can come alongside our Florida Baptist Churches for a long-term Gospel impact. The learning and growth that these mission opportunities provide will not only bear fruit in the present, but they serve to invest in the next generation of Florida Baptists who will carry on the important work that those who have gone before them have started through our great churches.
In a culture that tells college students to pursue a spring break experience that will ultimately leave them wanting, Florida Baptist’s are strategic to leverage their resources to develop the next generation of faithful disciples.