The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

Campus ministries’ spring break trips change lives through faith and friendship

March 22, 2023

Spring break can be a much needed boon for hardworking students. The weeklong respite splits the semester in two tidy halves, giving students a chance to recuperate so they can take care of things in the second half. But it’s what happens during the break that really warrants its reputation.

Spring break has long been treasured as a chance to take trips in the warming weather and make memories with friends. We sure hope that everyone on campus took some time for themselves over the break, but The Northerner spoke with two out of multiple campus ministries that took group trips. 

The trips were classic beach trips with wholesome twists that strengthened faith and friendships, carving these memories a special spot in the hearts of attendees. 

Baptist Campus Ministry

Over spring break, the Baptist Campus Ministry’s (BCM) trip to North Carolina resulted in more than just a good vacation: the experiences changed students’ lives and created a community embracing diversity and faith. 

This trip embraced individuals of different demographics, nationalities and backgrounds, bringing students together into a community. Students and staff from Nepal, Vietnam, Honduras, Bangladesh, Qatar, Ivory Coast and the U.S. made up the 62-person group that formed friendships and memories of a lifetime.

Josh Skipper, director of the BCM and organizer of the trip, arranged the group’s lodging at Fort Caswell Coastal Retreat & Conference Center, an 1800s fort used during the Second World War turned campground. The restored fort was complete with gun batteries, old fortifications and a private beach. 

“It was a dream come true for us. We had such an incredible experience … stories about Jesus, the time at the beach [and] going to downtown Wilmington, we did a lot of crazy stuff,” Skipper said. 

Thu Le, an international student from Vietnam, said, “I am an international student and I saw how happy [international students] were to finally be able to find a community of friends who really care for them and it was really great. I wish I had a community like that when I first got here to the U.S.” 

The spring break trip was filled with many special and memorable moments for students. Some of which surrounded the night/day storytelling times where students would split into eight groups and tell Biblical stories and illustrate them with stick figures. Le said she got to hear so many good thoughts she didn’t know before concerning the Bible through these story sessions.

Faith Mathew, one of the leaders of the BCM, is originally from India but spent the majority of his life in Qatar before coming to NKU. 

“I feel like people think that there are cultural boundaries that can’t be eliminated or broken down, but I feel like those limitations can be broken down and you can make friends cross-culturally,” Mathew said.

Binayak Shrestha, a student from Nepal, said that the spring trip was a lifetime experience that opened lots of doors for him, most notably “the connection and networking that I built with people.” Shrestha talked about how special it was to be by the ocean, especially due to Nepal being a landlocked country, and the memories he will continue to treasure such as flying a kite by the coast and going on late night walks on the beach. 

Marc Aymeric, a student from the Ivory Coast, said, “I found kind of a family. To be honest I used to pray to find these kinds of people.” Aymeric said that he found a community where he could truly be himself and people who could help encourage him to be the best version of himself going forward.

BCM President Emma Brand’s favorite moment was the worship service on the last night of the trip, where attendees were able to sing songs focused on the stories of Jesus that the group had been learning about throughout the week. 

“We love NKU, we love our students. So proud of all of them and we are so thankful that we got to have this experience and we’ve already booked for next year,” Skipper exclaimed.

The Baptist Campus Ministry meets at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and more information can be found on their Instagram page.

Young Life College

Gulf Shores, Alabama was the destination spot for the campus ministry known as Young Life College (or College Life). About 70 students embarked on the journey to the beach, where Christian outreach, worship and many adventures would ensue. 

Senior Alex Aaron is a leader for College Life and said the goal was to keep the week relaxed and organic with not too much planning done ahead of time. This allowed people to hang out with one another, mingling with some people they may have never met before and exploring during the day.

The senior said that of the around 70 attendants, about 70% were regular College Life students, but the trip wasn’t necessarily just for those who come weekly.

“We tried to do a good job at spreading awareness throughout campus. There were some connections, but it was by no means only our body,” Aaron said.

One attendee, sophomore Reagen Bass, decided to go on the beach trip to strengthen her relationship with God and fellow College Life friends. It was her first time going to Gulf Shores and the dynamic of the trip made for a lot of fun, she said.

All the students gathered together in one house from Saturday, March 4 through March 11, taking a relaxing break from school but also getting to share about their faith.

Throughout the week, there would be Gospel talks where members would share about their Christian beliefs and sing songs of worship. There would also be time for game nights, hanging out with one another, exploring the restaurants and sweet shops and spending time on the beach.

One memory Bass will never forget happened in the early morning: the group was performing baptisms in the ocean as the waves were crashing onto the shore and the sun was poking through the clouds.

Aaron spoke to similar events that happened throughout the week. Two siblings who attended the trip had received recent news that their father was diagnosed with cancer. The group prayed consistently for the father’s healing, and during the trip, the siblings received a text which said all traces of the cancer were gone.

The senior hopes to continue to see movement in the campus ministry far after the trip’s finale and the revival movement that happened last month on campus. 

“Our statement is truly and will always be we’re interested in engaging all of campus no matter a belief system or anything else that might separate us,” Aaron said. “Even sometimes when it’s not received well, we want to love on people to an extent that is unlike what they’ve seen before.”

Young Life College meets at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, and more information can be found on their Instagram page.

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