Students, including one from the Alamo Colleges, gather from across the nation to evangelize to spring breakers in Florida.
By Janelle Polcyn
A Northeast Lakeview student who tagged along on a Christian group’s spring break mission for the cheap trip to the coast says he ended up saving his most unexpected convert — himself.
Communication arts sophomore Andrew “Fin” Esteves and three University of Texas at San Antonio students joined more than 1,000 students from campuses nationwide this month to witness to spring breakers in Panama City Beach, Fla.
“It’s a week of learning how to evangelize,” UTSA business freshman Maddie McDonald said of the Big Break program organized by Cru, a Florida-based international ministry. “We talk to college students that are partying and share the good news that God sent his son for us and how we can be saved by simply asking him into our heart. A lot of people get saved or get a seed planted. It’s a lot of fun, too.”
The students gathered at the Edgewater Resort March 7-14 to learn how to share Jesus and then take him to the beaches.
Taking a week off to serve others is not unusual, but taking the only week off in the middle of the semester to share the love of Christ is not the typical spring break.
“Big Break is kind of like an evangelistic training conference,” said Jay Saliceti, director for Cru San Antonio. “Big Break will help you train for a lifestyle of evangelism. It will help you share the hope of Christ for the rest of your life.”
Esteves ended up committing his own life to Christ after finding the Jesus he was trying to share. He said he was not particularly religious before he joined Cru.
“They (Cru students) kind of persuaded me to sign up, and I did,” Esteves said. “Eventually, they all just kind of dropped out. I was kind of surprised; I was like, ‘Really, no one?’ I actually knew no one at all. It was a long 15-hour drive with random people.”
All of the students at Big Break spent the whole week evangelizing with people they met.
“We try to show them they’re not alone; in case you ever feel like you’re struggling, if you need someone to lean on, Jesus is always there,” Esteves said. “You’re just going around sharing the Gospel.”
On one of the last nights, Esteves made a connection with some people from Penn State who sparked a life change for him.
“My friend Kit and another two named Dan and Trevor, just us four, we went upstairs and they were showing the Gospel,” Esteves said. “I had never actually heard of the Gospel and it was pretty interesting to hear that.
“They were so enthusiastic and super excited to actually share it, and I’ve never actually heard that. Most people are kind of boring or they don’t really care. It was just cool to actually hear people my age actually want to share the Bible.”
He got really excited about the idea of Christ in his life and wanted to have that relationship, he said. He felt like he could breathe and felt peace once he accepted Christ.
Upon his return to Texas, he got the opportunity to share his new faith after a week of struggling to tell people what he did not believe himself.
“When I came back from my break, my mom was having some problems and so was my best friend,” Esteves said. “I showed them the survey and they actually accepted the Lord. I felt like I got to show the Lord with them and now they’re happier. They are happy with life. I feel like I’m probably going to start doing this more, persuade people to God so that they can feel like they’re not alone.”
Esteves and others who experienced Big Break and had a seed planted or accepted Christ say they have a different outlook on life and Spring Break.
“You wouldn’t associate a party week at the beach with making a relationship with Christ,” Saliceti said.
The stereotype associates Spring Break with alcohol and parties, and these students took the initiative to share their faith, he said.
“We saw a lot of students come to Christ and there’s always something supernatural about that,” Saliceti said.