What does it mean that God leaves the 99 to find the 1? This is what I’ve been asking lately. It’s a beautiful idea, that God pursues the lost sheep, no matter if it’s only one. But in practical application, what does that mean and what does that look like?
Let me tell ya. It’s Beach Reach.
165 college students from Denton, TX going to PCB, Florida and spending every night sharing the gospel with spring breakers. It means surrendering a week intended for rest and instead committing to tell the lost that they’re loved greater than they could ever imagine and that true joy and freedom are on the other side.
And this, friends, is a visual of the Great Commission.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
We are called to go and that’s what we have done. To fight on the front lines. To stand outside of clubs and engage with people about what they believe. And then to confront them with Jesus and what he’s done for them. To show them Love in the form of a free van ride. And when they ask “what’s the catch?” to say, “nothing. You just have to listen to us share the Gospel.”
We gave free van rides (it sounds shady, I know, but the people love it) and walked along the Strip for six hours every night and not one conversation was wasted. After long nights on the front lines, we got up in the mornings and served free pancakes. I tell you this not to brag about what we did, but to brag about what God did. He gave us an overflow (PLUG tuesday’s at 8 at 1100 malone st.) of strength to push through the exhaustion. He gave us the boldness to push through the initial awkwardness and think about other people’s eternities rather than our comfort levels. Y’all one night, my team and I spent an hour and a half talking to a drug dealer about Jesus and while this guy looked me in the eye and told me that God wasn’t real, the very God he denied made me realize that this person too is someone Jesus died for. And it sounds extreme to say that we talked to a drug dealer about the Gospel, but let’s not forget how God encountered Saul and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to the author of 13 books in the Bible.
To bring only one brother or sister to Christ would’ve made the whole trip worth it. Having one Gospel conversation would’ve completely over-and-above justified the expense of Beach Reach. But that’s not what God had planned. God brought 18 new brothers and sisters to Himself. And even that is not all He did! At Beach Reach, we focused on putting pebbles in spring breaker’s shoes, metaphorically speaking. On average, I’ve heard it takes about 7 times for someone to hear the Gospel before they accept Christ. Beach Reach is the mission of mass planting Gospel pebbles. If spring breakers encountered us on vans or on the streets, they heard the Gospel. And sure, they might’ve just proceeded on into the club or party like nothing was different but if there’s a pebble in your shoe, you gotta deal with it. Once confronted with Christ, you don’t keep living like nothing happened; you can’t. With over 8,000 van rides throughout the week and countless street conversations, imagine the number of pebbles in spring breaker’s shoes. They’re gonna have to deal with the Gospel eventually and God will do work on those people that we will never see on this earth. The crop for all the seeds planted may never be revealed to the sowers, but I can’t wait to be with those brothers and sisters in Heaven for a glorious eternity. What a story they’ll have, from spring breaker to partying with Jesus in Heaven (and if they think partying down here is great, boy do I have news for them). God saved 18 during Beach Reach, but I can’t wait to see how many more He’ll save from the Gospel pebbles planted in their shoes.
Yet, Beach Reach is not the only image of God pursuing the sheep that’s strayed; this is not the only image of the Great Commission. It’s also telling the girl that sits next to you in BIO about the cross of Christ. It’s making sure that if your friends haven’t heard of Jesus, they’re well acquainted with His name by the fact that you don’t shut up about Him. It’s telling everyone you know about the Love that’s found you because you can’t bear the thought of them being apart from Jesus for eternity.
I want to leave you with this idea: God pursues the lost sheep and brings them to His Fold. That’s something we, as the 99, are called to be apart of. I’m thankful for everything that happened this week, but let it not end with this week. Friends, brothers and sisters, fellow sheep, let’s share the Gospel with all boldness and urgency. Let us point everyone to our good and faithful Shepherd.