Twenty-five Howard Payne University (HPU) students are heading to South Padre Island to share their faith with others over spring break.
"We aspire to meet people's needs and share Jesus as we're doing that," said HPU Baptist Student Ministry Director Keith Platte.
This is the second year that HPU is participating in the Beach Reach opportunity. Many schools will be joining HPU on this week-long mission trip, including Hardin-Simmons University. Platte said approximately 860 students will be a part of this experience, which is the largest turnout yet.
He said the group will provide free van rides and pancake breakfasts while ministering to the people there. They will also be walking along the beach and striking up conversations about the gospel.
"A lot of times, people question why our church group drives people to a bar. It's because we love them, because Christ loves us and we want them to be safe," said HPU junior Lacy Culpepper. "It's awesome to be able to do the Lord's work. You meet a large variety of people in the vans and it's cool to just invest in them and talk to them. We're not forcing anything on them."
"We're there doing what God called us to do, which is to share Him and love people at this trip," said HPU senior Rebekah Steadman.
Both students said the trip will be a success if they're simply able to plant a seed in people's minds.
"Maybe they won't accept Him, but they get to know who He is just by seeing what we're doing," said Steadman.
Platte said he hopes the students will come back with the same passion to reach out to others on campus and in the community the same way they do at South Padre Island.
The students left around 2 p.m. on Friday. The Beach Reach opportunity has been in existence for more than 30 years. Last year, 10 HPU students. According to Platte, the trip cost about $400 per student.