Find Your Program


trojan watermark.jpg


trojan watermark.jpg

AU News

AU Students Part of Large Outreach in Florida

Web Beach Reach 24 van
A team of Anderson University students shared Jesus’ love with others over spring break.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Hitting the beach is pretty much a ritual of spring break. It’s estimated that about half a million college students take a break from their studies and converge on Panama City Beach, located along Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

Amidst all the revelry, there’s some soul searching going on among students. That’s why a team of Anderson University students joined more than 1,500 students from different colleges and universities for BeachReach, three weeks of outreach organized by Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) to help others realize they can fill that void with Jesus’ love.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year because it is taking the Gospel where college students are,” said Anderson University Assistant Vice President of Christian Life James Hanson. “Every year, this year included, I see students grow confident in sharing their faith and walk with them as their hearts are broken for their peers who are lost. This ministry has been going on continuously since 1996 with only a one year break for Covid. This is my fifth time going, and it never disappoints.”

Student Josh Tofel described their trip as a combination of retreat and mission trip. Most days, according to Tofel, consisted of blocks of prayer time as well as some free time, and then from about 8 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. was devoted to ministry.

“When you go up to talk to people, the challenge is not starting to talk to them, but it’s transitioning from small talk to spiritual questions, because as soon as you make that transition, if you’re not careful, they’ll stop listening,” said Abigail Locke, a sophomore majoring in Music Performance. 

Web Beach Reach montage

This was also the first year BeachReach organized late night pancakes at Church at the Beach, where students from the teams sat alongside others who came for free pancakes, sharing conversation and a message of hope.

“There was a guy who came with his girlfriend, and me and some other people on our team were able to just sit with him and talk for a really long time,” Locke said. “He made a profession of faith that night… I think definitely the good encounters were what impacted us more than the bad encounters.” 

For Gabe Lindner, a senior Homeland Security major, this was his second Beach Reach. 

“It’s just a good opportunity to get outside your comfort zone and evangelize, get down to the nitty gritty and ask if people know who Jesus is,” Lindner said. “I’ve had a lot of good conversations.” Lindner and others from Anderson University joined students from various colleges and universities preparing pancakes for the hungry crowds. 

“People are actually hungry for the gospel, they’re hungry for something more,” Tofel said. “All it takes is asking the right questions and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and then you’ve got somebody that sees their brokenness and perfect transition to the love of Christ and the victory He’s brought us.” 

Web BeachReach beach

Hanson noted that during the three weeks of Beach Reach 2024, student teams transported 18,972 shuttle riders, served 1,662 plates of pancakes, prayed for and had Gospel conversations with 10,697 people, 310 of whom prayed to receive Christ. 

News Release Contact

Executive Director for Public Relations