College Students Converge in Myrtle Beach to Seek God
Updated: Mar 5, 2019
Hundreds of college and high school students from across South Carolina gathered for a weekend of worship in Myrtle Beach. The event was a collegiate beach retreat called Converge and is put on by the South Carolina Baptist Convention for Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) groups every year. The weekend was packed with various sermons, small groups, recreational activities and more with the purpose of bringing students closer to God.
“I didn’t really expect to get much out of this weekend, but it was definitely a very challenging and awakening time for me,” said John Michael Alexander, a junior at Lander University. “My hope was to grow closer in my relationships with other people and most importantly, my relationship with God through the different classes, the worship, and the sermons this weekend, and that’s what I got,” said Winthrop University senior, Ashley Johnson.
The conference featured two guest speakers—Ben Stuart and Fred “Chip” Luter III.Stuart is the Resident in Leadership and Church Planting at Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia. His first sermon focused mainly on Christians allowing the Bible to change their hearts. He said,
“Before you can do the work of this book, you must allow this book to do work on you.”
The theme of the retreat was “Rooted,” so he related that idea back to his message. “A man can sit in a room and hear the Gospel over and over and over again and still be an enemy of God if it doesn’t take root.”
Luter is the pastor of the Sulphur Springs campus of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida. He focused mainly on spiritual freedom and boldness in faith.During his last session, Luter said,
“When we are determined to stand out for God, we will live in the culture, but must not live like the culture.”
On the second day of the retreat, students chose special break-out sessions to attend during their free time. One of the meetings was led by Jay Hardwick and focused mainly on vocational missions and church planting.
Hardwick has given up much of what he found important in his life to dedicate himself to church planting. However, he said,
“Often, to follow where God is leading, you have to let go of someone or something you love.”
Some students even travelled from outside of South Carolina to attend the retreat. Nathan Choplin, a student at North Carolina State University said, “It’s been pretty cool just to be in the same room with a couple hundred other people who just have a heart for Jesus and have a heart for sharing Jesus with others.”
Choplin and a handful of other students including Winthrop University senior, Garrett Bowman, were reunited at Converge after first meeting while participating in a disaster relief project during winter break.
Bowman said, “While I was at Converge, I was excited to find that there were plenty of familiar faces. I reconnected with some and introduced myself to many.”Among that group, many reported feeling called to pursue missions in either a vocational or temporary setting.
“I think the Lord wants me to spend some time humbling my heart in preparation to commit to serving his kingdom in ministry,” said Bowman. He continued,
“I need to let the Word of God be written on my bones and wrapped around my heart to where it becomes all I speak of and all I pursue.”
Some were already on the path to serve in missions around the world. Alexander has already started the process to work in North Africa this summer. Converge only affirmed his desires to continue with missions.
“All I can say is that the presence of the Lord is great and big and strong, and can hit you in an instant, and all of a sudden you’re bawling your eyes out in front of a few hundred of your closest friends,” he said. “My prayer is that each of us would take what we found this weekend and show those around us how great the Lord has been to us.”
In Stuart’s first sermon, he told students,
“Don’t just be a hearer. Be a doer.”
He explained that mission work allows people to put their thoughts and beliefs into action.
“Converge was a time full of growth and reflection where I was able to really think about what God was doing in my life,” said Bowman. “Now, I’m all the more confident that God is doing big things at Winthrop University, Rock Hill, and beyond. And I’m even more excited that I get to be a part of it.”
For more information about Converge and missions, visit the South Carolina Baptist Convention website or contact your closest BCM.