Teen beachgoers become naturally curious when The Salvation Army holds its annual “Beach Blast” at OOB. A bonfire lights up the night sky and Christian music fills the air.
This year, as Captain Bobby Westmoreland read from John 21 about a miraculous catch of fish, the crowd of more than 120 teens around the bonfire swelled. “The exciting thing that happened while we were sharing the Scripture is that men, women, and children who were not involved in our ‘Beach Blast’ started to come toward our circle,” said Captain Ivan Rock, territorial youth & candidates secretary. “I actually had the privilege of leading a man to Christ. It was really very exciting.”
Westmoreland, a corps officer in Lawrenceville, Ga., along with his wife, Captain Anne Westmoreland, made the Scripture reading interactive by inviting teens and others to share bread and fish cooked in the bonfire.
In John 21, the resurrected Jesus shows up to have fish and bread with His disciples on the beach.
“At the point the disciples were at their lowest, when they felt they had lost everything and the ministry was gone, Jesus showed up,” Bobby Westmoreland said. “He does that in our lives as well.
“When we seem to be at our lowest and we have no one else, Jesus is always there. Jesus is always with us no matter what we go through.”
The Westmorelands also passed out paper fish that were to symbolize something that was keeping the teens from living totally for Christ. Bobby Westmoreland explained that it could be a habit or a thought, anything being used as a crutch.
“For Peter, it was fishing,” he said. “That’s what he knew. That’s what he was comfortable with, but Jesus was saying, ‘I have a bigger purpose for you. I want you to feed my sheep.’ ”
The teens were then invited to throw the paper fish into the fire, symbolically getting rid of their bad habits and thoughts. Rock said the man he led to Christ tossed his fish in the fire and then prayed for salvation.
Before the message, the teens played volleyball and other games on the beach while listening to the Christian singing group “Kumi” (Aramaic for “arise”), featuring two sisters, Talitha and Acacia Walters–Wulfing. The name comes from Mark 5, where Christ tells a dead girl to “arise.” Talitha’s name comes from the same passage.
Acacia, a Salvationist, said the sisters grew up in Portland, Maine, and now live in Nashville. They are hoping to land a recording contract.
“God always seems to speak to at least one person when we play, and that’s always worth it for us,” Acacia said.
On this night, that one person found eternal life in Jesus Christ.