PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – Research shows that less than half of Christian teens explained their beliefs to someone else with different faith views in the last year, but thousands of Christian college students spent their spring break defying those statistics.
In March, 2,985 U.S. students participated in Campus Crusade for Christ’s annual Big Break outreach – four week-long events in Panama City Beach, Fla., designed to train and empower students to share their faith.
“I wasn’t very supportive of evangelism, which is why I’m not sure why I decided to go on the trip in the first place,” said a Big Break participant in a follow up survey. That student wasn’t the only one who felt hesitant about engaging in spiritual topics with strangers.
Many Big Break participants admitted to a fear of evangelism.
“Once students learned that evangelism is not just getting a message across, but rather really listening and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective and relating to them according to where they are, then initiating spiritual conversations is far less intimidating and genuinely motivated by love,” said Roger Hershey, who taught Big Break participants how to initiate conversations about spiritual topics.
Hershey’s message didn’t fall on deaf ears. Big Break students reported having more than 12,800 spiritual conversations at Panama City Beach, Fla., more than 5,000 of those conversations included a complete explanation of the Gospel.
“I watched our students transform from fear to faith. Now they are talking about ways to engage in spiritual conversations with students back on campus,” said Kathie Virunurm, Campus Crusade for Christ team leader at George Mason University, who brought 45 students to Big Break.
For more than 25 years, the Big Break outreach has been changing the lives of students and Panama City Beach visitors.