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Spring Break

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Spring Break Trip: Friendship & Faith

The University of Minnesota’s annual spring break trip to Myrtle Beach had a rather inauspicious beginning - a massive, 15-passenger transit van pulling a U-haul trailer.

As students loaded their luggage in the trailer and strategically placed backpacks and pillows claiming their seats in the van, nervous anticipation hung in the air. Would we all survive the 26 hour car ride ahead? Was it a huge mistake to squeeze fifteen people in a fifteen passenger van? Would this somewhat random assortment of staff and students actually become friends?

Every year, Campus Outreach sends students from our Twin Cities campuses down to Myrtle Beach, SC, for spring break to stay at and work on the Summer Training Project hotel, enjoy the beach, and grow in friendship with each other.

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The beauty of the spring break trip is how conducive it is to deepening friendships. There’s just something about cramming into a van, driving for two days straight across the country, and spending the following week doing everything together that bonds a group of people quickly and deeply. As friendships deepen, so does trust, making it easier to have conversations about faith even when you don’t believe in the same thing.

The group of students from the U of M who came on our spring break trip represented a wide spectrum of religious beliefs. We had students who grew up in the church and identify as Christians, and we had students who are atheist or agnostic with no interest in Christianity. And yet, despite these differences, we found that the friendships cultivated on our trip created the opportunities for open and honest conversations about faith between students, no matter where they were at.

Every morning, we ate breakfast together and discussed questions about various Bible passages. In all of our discussions, we were trying to answer the question, "Why is Jesus relevant for you right now?" The majority of students at the U of M don’t see a relationship with Jesus as something that is relevant, necessary, or beneficial. We wanted to start a conversation about why we as Christians think that a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in the entire world. Over the course of the week, we talked about eternal life, relationships with others, and purpose. As everyone became more and more comfortable with each other, it became easier and easier for students to open up, ask questions, and be honest about the things they like and don’t like about Christianity.

As Christians seeking to spread the good news of what Jesus has done to students on a very secular and skeptical campus, we’ve seen that friendship lays the best foundation for honest conversations about faith. Although spending 26 hours in a van together or playing spikeball or exploring Charleston might seem inauspicious, we found that those shared experiences with students provided us with so opportunities to have conversations with students, listen to their stories, and share about how Christ has changed our lives and can change their lives as well.

Emma Button
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
U of M Campus Staff

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Bethel Spring Break Trip and STP!

It’s that wonderful time of the year when students get a week off from classes and they can do whatever they want. Naturally, people want to do something with other people and go somewhere warm. That’s where we come in! We ask students to come down for two reasons:

  1. To have fun with a community of believers who lean in
  2. To come to treasure Jesus more

The fact that the price of the trip is cheap and that we were going somewhere warm is helpful, but I really think people come on these trips because they long for community. This year Bethel had 27 students come on our spring break trip. That is a lot more students than we had last year. I think it was because we had a lot of leaders who were coming and they brought others with them.

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Part of what we are trying to build here at Bethel is a body of believers who lean into each other's life. We love to have fun and enjoy one another. I think that environment was definitely created on our spring break trip. Even though the weather wasn’t great, we all had such a great time. A lot of people still got burnt too. We did activities such as: playing volleyball, soaking in the sun on the beach, going to alligator adventure, going bowling, going to see a movie and playing a lot of games at our hotel (Mafia). If you ever go to Myrtle Beach you should visit Alligator Adventure, they have a crocodile named UTAN who weighs over 2,000 pounds!

To help students treasure Jesus more, each day we had a bible study. Our theme this year was “We are the problem”. As a staff team, we hear students use language as if all their problems are outside of them. “Only if this guy didn’t yell at me like that then I wouldn’t have reacted like that.” We really wanted to help students see that we are the problem. We read through passages like Romans 3 and Ephesians 2 which say that no one is righteous and that we were all once children of wrath. We have a heart and sin problem. Understanding this important aspect of our lives makes the news of Jesus so sweet. Along with talking about how we are the problem, we read and learned about how Jesus is the solution and hero of the story. Understanding our sinful hearts makes what Jesus did for us on the cross so beautiful. For some students, this was a sweet and familiar theme and for others, it was something new. Our theme created a lot of good conversations where Jesus was glorified!

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Lastly, our spring break trip created a lot of excitement for Bethel students to attend our Summer Training Project. A handful of the students who came on our spring break trip signed up to come to STP. We were praying that God would bring 25 Bethel students and he has exceeded our prayer by bringing 33 students, which is double last year! Our Bethel staff team is praying that these students would treasure Jesus more not only this summer but for a lifetime.

Lucas Cecka
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
Bethel Campus Staff

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Unexpected Savior

The following is the devotional from Northwestern's spring break trip last week:

If I told you that you were about to meet the most famous, impactful, powerful, loving, just, and creative king that has ever walked the earth; what would you imagine this person being and looking like? If you are anything like me, I doubt it is a relatively short and unattractive male that is a lowly carpenter.  Jesus was never the figure we thought He would be. In fact, almost everything about Himself was counter cultural and unexpected.

Jesus was born in an unimpressive manger, out of wedlock and in a town that was considered worthless. His birth was proclaimed and celebrated by magicians and pagans, even though he was the son of the most high God.  Then he grew up and began to do ministry with his handpicked disciples; who happen to all be fishermen and tax collectors that were not intelligent enough to become Pharisees and Scribes. He hung out with the sick, lame and rejected. With his newfound popularity and stardom, crowds tried to gather around him to make him King, yet he ran from them and pursued time alone with his father.

Then after all of his popularity and perfection, the Son of God would be wrongly hated and convicted of crimes he never committed. The people he came to save rejected and despised him. Then hanging on the cross he still loved those same people enough to ask his father to forgive them. What kind of King is this?

This is a King who knows what we need, even if we don’t. Eventually we begin to find this king in places that we would never expect along with more joy than we can ever imagine. He is a King waiting to be with us and walk alongside us in our pain and suffering.  Jesus seemingly always does the unexpected when interacting with people, whether they are righteous, sinful, doubters or untouchable. This also gives us hope, that he would meet us at our level of faith and show up in our lives in completely unexpected ways.

Nate VanZee
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
University of Northwestern Campus Staff

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3 Prayers for Spring Break

Wait, so you didn’t go on a mission trip? What did you do while you were down there? You guys just had fun the whole time? 

Those are a few of the questions we get asked about our spring break trip every year. This is the 3rd time we’ve sent a group of students to South Carolina from St. Cloud. Each year, the number of students interested in the trip has grown. We brought 15 students with on the trip this year including both believing and unbelieving students. During the first morning of the trip, I shared 3 goals with the group that I was praying for out of the trip. 

  1. That they would have a lot of fun
  2. That they would be surprised by Jesus
  3. That they would consider spending a summer there

The whole trip was a blast! There were numerous days where I had to slap myself because I couldn’t believe that I was working. Elisa (my staff partner) and I planned something fun for the group each day.

Day 1 included a lot of beach volleyball and catching up on sleep from the 24hr+ drive. That night we went to Nacho Hippo for dinner (everyone’s favorite place to eat in Myrtle Beach) and went to a movie at the cinema in Market Commons.

Day 2 we visited Charleston which is a couple of hours away from Myrtle Beach. The students loved seeing the historic architecture of the city.

Day 3 we worked on some projects on the hotel which had been hit by Hurricane Matthew in September. Later that night we went out to dinner at Myabi’s. All was going well until one of the students had an allergic reaction. Elisa and I spent the rest of the evening in the E.R. Thankfully all is well and that student learned to never eat shrimp again!

Day 4 we enjoyed beautiful weather. Most of the day was spent playing volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and swimming. A few students even tried their luck at surfing! That night we planned a photo scavenger hunt at Broadway at the Beach. We have a lot of competitive students involved, some of them even took the competition a little overboard. but overall it was a good time. 

After a fun filled week, we began the long trek home on Thursday and were thankful to be safely back in Minnesota by Friday night. Prayer #1 was most definitely answered!

While the trip isn’t exactly a mission trip per say, we use it as an intentional time to study the bible with students. As I mentioned earlier, a few of the students who came on the trip aren’t believers. Every morning we would have a Bible study with the group. We read through Mark in small groups and discussed what stood out to us and what questions we had. After reading in small groups we would discuss in the large group. One of the passages we read was Mark 10:25-27 which says:

 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."

After reading that passage, one of the students said “What I’m learning is that its not about a checklist of things you can do, but that it is accepting God’s grace.” Another student said that over the trip she had learned more about Jesus than she had in her entire life before that!

After those responses to Jesus and the Bible, I would say that prayer #2 was also most definitely answered! 

One of the most encouraging things about this trip was seeing our student leaders take initiation and have conversations with the younger students. From the first day on, students were asking each other about their lives and more specifically about their summers. A few of our students are coming to project as room leaders this summer and intentionally challenged younger students to come this summer. After numerous conversations and getting a feel for what it would be like, several students have expressed interest in coming this summer. Two students in particular went from considering it as an option to making decisions to go! I felt so humbled by the fact that most of these conversations were happening apart from me. God was using our students to speak into the lives of other students! Prayer #3 was answered as well.

Spring Break 2017 was such an encouragement and I look forward to seeing how God will continue to use trips like these in the lives of our students!

Berto Ramos
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
St. Cloud State University Staff

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UST Goes to South Carolina

On this trip, we experienced God’s majesty as we witnessed the vastness of our country, the beauty of the Smokey Mountains, the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, and the joy of being in community. However, the greatest display was looking at Jesus and the work he did for us on the cross.

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Bethel on Spring Break

This past week, 3 staff and 12 students from Bethel went on a spring break trip to South Carolina. Two months ago we were praying that God would bring 4 freshmen girls and 4 freshmen guys on our spring break trip. God answered our prayer with a "yes" and he brought 5 freshmen girls and 4 freshmen guys.

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Sand & Sun for U of M

Last week 5 of the U of M staff were able to go to South Carolina with 18 students for spring break! We were really excited for the opportunity to spend so much time with students we had met this year. We were hoping to have lots of freshman and sophomore students come on the trip and especially some who don’t know Christ. The Lord definitely provided on this trip for us.

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