Our ministry team recently returned from Panama City Beach, Florida where we proclaimed the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ during the two most heavily populated weeks of Spring Break. Through open-air preaching, one-on-one witnessing and tract distribution, tens of thousands of college students who had gathered to indulge in sin heard the call to repent and believe the Gospel.
Even more intense than last year, the atmosphere on the beach was immensely wicked, as was the hostility toward the Gospel. While MTV blared unGodly music and messages to the enormously large crowds of students who gathered to engage in drunkenness and open sexual perversion, we set up our half-mile public address system in the midst of them, calling upon students to turn from their sinful, destructive life choices and to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ before it was too late.
As we preached and lifted up the name of the Lord through the singing of hymns in the midst of this celebration of sin, several students attacked our team and damaged our equipment on several different occassions, resulting in their arrests. On another occasion, an angry student struck a pastor with our team in the face with a football as he was preaching, causing him to be knocked unconscious. The pastor recovered and was back out preaching the next day.
At times, area hotels and other businesses attempted to silence our message of repentance from sin by contacting the police to have us removed from their beach property, which they claimed they owned up to the ocean water. We were threatened with arrest for “trespass” several times for preaching the Gospel in areas that were ironically open to the public for Spring Break. After involving our legal counsel in the situation, the city attorney agreed that these businesses could not order us away as long as we were stationed within 25-feet of the water along the coastline anywhere in the city limits. At that point, we were free to witness and preach God’s Word without the threat of arrest.
Still, the rejection that saddened us the most was the behavior of many professing Christians. Sadly, many students on the beach who were there to partake in drunkenness and sexual immorality stated that they were “Christians,” even, at times, quoting Scripture, and trying to justify their behavior as somehow acceptable to God, telling us that we should not preach repentance.
Conversely, as we observed some of the other Christian ministries on the beach, we became extremely disturbed at the “evangelism” methods of these groups. One of these “ministries” used vans to give intoxicated students free rides from party to party and club to club, even stating that they would give a student a ride to Planned Parenthood if requested, and another would simply have their members chat with students and have them repeat scripted prayers and then declare them to be “saved.” There was no mention of repentance, nor any expression of sorrow for transgressing the Law of God. As a result of these unBiblical methods, these same supposedly “converted” students would simply stay on the beach to continue in their sin, now convinced that they were “saved.”
Eternity is not something to play games with. None of these students know when their souls will be required of them. No one is promised tomorrow. In fact, during our first week in Panama City Beach, police reported that a 20-year-old student fell from a motel roof and landed on his face after he “had been drinking all day,” and several days later a 21-year-old male student from Texas was found dead outside of a condominium complex in a ditch, which was also alcohol-related. Two days after our departure, a 20-year-old was killed in a hit and run incident, and the driver, also age 20, lost his life minutes later after colliding with an oncoming truck. Our prayers go out to the families, but these deaths should be a sobering reminder of how temporal our lives are here on this earth. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
Even though our time in Panama City Beach was extremely difficult to behold, we are thankful that we were able to declare the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands of souls lost in darkness and sin. Please continue to pray that many of these students who have now returned to their colleges will seriously reconsider the direction of their lives, repent, and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ before it is too late.
Thank you for your prayers and support in making this outreach a success!
– Repent America
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat or Christ, that every one may receive [recompense for] the things done in his body, according to that [which] he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)