DBU Students Serve in Sand and Snow During Spring Break

DBU students Chase Thomson (center) and Jessica Kowalski (right) pray with a student during Beach Reach 2013 in South Padre Island.
DBU students Chase Thomson (center) and Jessica Kowalski (right) pray with a student during Beach Reach 2013 in South Padre Island.

From a warm, sunny beach in South Padre Island, Texas, to the snowy, frozen tundra of Des Moines, Iowa, 35 students from Dallas Baptist University spent their Spring Break serving and sharing the Gospel.

One group of 24 DBU students, led by Chris Holloway, director of global missions, and Emily Hopmann, Baptist Student Ministry director, participated in Beach Reach which brought more than 750 students from Baptist Student Ministries (BSM) across Texas to South Padre Island to witness to fellow college students spending their break on the beach. The students offered van rides across the island each night to provide safe, alternative transportation to beachgoers. They also served pancake breakfasts and evangelized to new friends they encountered each day.

Junior Catie Lavelle, a psychology major from Denton, TX, served with Beach Reach for the first time and found the experience both challenging and rewarding. As she shared with fellow college students about why she gave up her break to serve others, she said, "I saw the Lord move through the simple, but powerful way we would bring up His name in conversation. I was able to see the Lord stir in our passenger's hearts while we were driving to the clubs, and when we would arrive, they wouldn't want to get off the van because they were open, hungry, and interested in the life giving words we were speaking."

Team leader Chris Holloway has taken groups to South Padre for several years as a way to not only share the Gospel, but also to encourage DBU students in their faith and provide them with opportunities to grow spiritually. "Our ultimate desire is that Beach Reach would not just be an experience, but that we as Christ-followers will see the need for the Gospel in all of our settings and that we will faithfully share it and trust the Lord for transformation," he explained.

In Des Moines, Iowa, 11 students from DBU worked with Habitat for Humanity on several home building and repair projects. Cold temperatures and snow proved to be a challenging working environment for the team, but they rallied together to work on three houses over five days.

The first home that they assisted with was built in the early 1900s and the home owner was a retired Vietnam veteran. During their time working on home repairs, the students had the opportunity to visit with the family and pray for their needs. Whitney Cooper, trip sponsor and assistant director of spiritual life at DBU, shared, "through the week, our students were able to see that the work they were doing was for a real family with legitimate needs and that they were making a difference."

The rest of the week was spent working on two homes for Des Moines residents, one new structure and one that was being rebuilt. Team members helped paint, build stairs, and do a variety of projects in the new homes. Through the projects, they not only learned about hard work and endurance, but they also developed relationships with each other.

"It was great to continuously be reminded that with each pound of a hammer, each cold day, each house worked on, was used for the Kingdom of God in some way," reflected sophomore Emily Stunkard, a Christian studies major from Tyler, TX.

While the two trips were quite different, they both gave DBU students the opportunity to share God's love with others and practice hands-on servant leadership.

After the week, "Our students and our team leaders are not the same," Holloway concluded. "I pray we will continue to be faithful in what God has taught us."

Written by Kalie Lowrie

Kalie Lowrie was the former Director of News and Information at Dallas Baptist University.