Campus ministry to attend conference, share faith to masses

Thousands of students involved with Cru will attend Big Break in Panama City Beach, Florida during spring break to grow in their faith and share it with others.

Big Break is a week-long conference held to offer training and experiences that prepare students to engage in spiritual conversations, according to Luke Roorda, one of the Cru area directors for the Sioux Empire.

“Students get to experience some great community at an amazing location,” Roorda said. “The hope is to give the people on spring break an opportunity to know Christ.”

This year more than 120 students from campuses across South Dakota have registered for the trip. This includes 68 students from SDSU alone. 

The conference includes morning sessions, which provide practical training to share the gospel and afternoon sessions, which give students the opportunity to put their training in motion.

Evening sessions administer biblical teaching, worship and discussions about personal evangelism. But, Roorda said, the group does plenty of other fun things together following the evening sessions and on the last day of the conference.

“We have dinners together, hang out on the beach, explore Panama City Beach and we also have a free day on Friday to take in all the sites,” Roorda said.

The amount of fun the trip can be is just one reason senior pharmacy major Kayte Kurth has traveled to Florida and attended Big Break three times, including this year. 

Though it may sound daunting, Kurth said walking up to strangers and asking about their faith isn’t as hard as it seems.

“Usually people are really willing to talk to you about anything,” Kurth said. “They’re not distracted by normal college things…We just want to reach out in a positive way.”

Because faith can be a controversial subject, each conversation may turn out differently. But, according to Cru intern Mark Olson, all a positive conversation needs is tolerance and respect.

“We believe that it is of utmost importance for students to have conversations about life, meaning, purpose and spirituality,” Olson said. “They are very sensitive topics, but important nonetheless. We are seeking to have honest and respectful conversations with other college students to get them thinking about God and their beliefs about the topic.”

Awareness is Cru’s goal this year, according to Olson. He said for students attending the conference this means growing in their own awareness of God. For those who aren’t attending, knowing God and experiencing the love and grace Jesus offers to all people.

“We want Big Break attendees to become aware that engaging in spiritual conversations with others is very important and can be comfortable and easy when handled with the respect and care God desires,” Olson said. “For the non-conference students that are willing to talk with us, we hope that they leave conversations feeling respected and cared for as we talked about God and spiritual things with them.”

Ultimately, Roorda said, Cru hopes to have the opportunity to tell people about Jesus, for students to learn more about how to communicate their faith and to have a wonderful time.