The most dreaded part of STP for pretty much everyone – beach evangelism. Coming into STP I knew it was a part of the deal, but I definitely wasn’t looking forward to it. Saturdays were devoted to evangelism so we would start at 9 am with e-training, followed by an hour and a half to two hours of going onto the beach sharing what we call “the bridge.” The bridge focuses on Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Pretty much we would walk along the beach in pairs and approach people, introduce ourselves, and then ask them if they would like to discuss an illustration that sums up the main themes of the Bible. Once I learned what it all entailed, it was a lot less intimidating of a situation.
The first week I went out onto the beach with Kara (a group member just like me) and Bethany (who is employed by The Navigators). I know Kara and I were both thankful to have Bethany there to help us and push us to be proactive in approaching people. The first week we talked with three groups of people. Everyone we approached was really kind and happy to see us out on the beach. I didn’t encounter any difficult questions, but was able to just go through the bridge, which I had learned less than an hour before (yeah, we jumped into it fast). After beach evangelism, everyone would gather back on campus to discuss how beach evangelism went. While personally I had not received that many rejections by people who we approached on the beach, many of my friends had, which was obviously difficult.
In total we did beach evangelism six times throughout the summer. As we got further in the summer, I became more and more ok and willing to go out and talk with people about my faith. While it was hard encountering rude individuals or receiving rejection, it was good to know we were all going through the same things out on the beach. We were also reminded that this rejection wasn’t toward us, but rejection to God. Overall, most of the people who would let us talk to them on the beach were already Christians, so many times I had a hard time deciding if it made sense to continue conversations (and maybe challenge them a bit to see if they truly had a relationship with Christ) or just move on.
My favorite moments for beach evangelism were when we would be on the beach, possibly discouraged, and encounter some of our other friends and just pray with them for a short time. Going out without any “adults” really made me feel in-charge of my faith and proud of what I and all my new friends were doing to glorify God.
Another time two of my STP friends came back a lot later than they were supposed to from beach evangelism and they were pretty shook up. Turns out they had tried to share with a man who was very, very angry with the Church. When they both came back to campus, we prayed for the man, George, and all the hurt he is dealing with from the Church and others. This is what the Church is supposed to do: show love to everyone.
By the end of the summer, our group led three people to Christ while out on the beach, making all the no’s and rejections from the summer worth it.