Campus outreach students a blessing to church, city

Pam Griffin
Cornerstone Presbyterian Church has a third Sunday dinner every month following morning worship. “We invited the students to remain behind as our guests for that Sunday,” said pastor Dewey Roberts. “We had to cater the meal and use our members to do the serving. Our members were all very happy to serve the students, and it was great all the way around.”

When 100 college students and 10 staff members came to Destin for a summer project, they chose Cornerstone Presbyterian Church as their place of worship.

“Most of them are students at Samford University in Birmingham and part of a campus organization called Campus Outreach,” Dewey Roberts, pastor of Cornerstone, told The Log. “They are wonderful young people, and they have been a great blessing to our church.”

Campus Outreach is a college ministry that exists to glorify God by building gospel laborers on the campus to reach the lost world. They all find summer jobs in the area at stores, restaurants and hotels, and places like Alvin’s Island.

“They focus first of all on being a witness for Christ in the marketplace and secondly in the community outside of their employment,” Roberts said.

As part of the summer beach project, students have nine weeks of training in living the Christian life.

 “We focus on how to have a personal relationship with God and how to share that with others,” Andrew Adair, spokesman for the group, told The Log. “There are about 300 students down here from campuses all over the southeast, mainly from Samford, Troy, University of West Georgia, University of North Alabama, and Berry College.”

Students can decide to do a beach outreach project for many different reasons.

“I personally decided to come to my first beach project three years ago because I was interested in the idea of dedicating two months entirely to growing in my relationship with God,” Adair said. “I was excited about experiencing the gospel in a more personal way and learning how to share that good news with everyone around me.”

Many might think that Destin would not be a good place for a ministry such as Campus Outreach.

“I know that, as a Christian, we are called to be missionaries and ministers of the gospel wherever we are,” Adair said. “I think Destin works out very practically because there are a lot of summer job openings that our students are able to fill, and it is a fun place for 300 college students to gather together and grow as a community of believers,” Adair said.

The students first attended Cornerstone Presbyterian on June 1 and their last Sunday was July 27.

“Hopefully, they will come back to be a part of our church every summer,” Roberts said. “For my part, I prepared a special series of sermons geared for their needs in consultation with the staff of Campus Outreach.”

“Our hope is that at the end of the beach project, we will be able to replicate all that we learned in the summer on our campuses and wherever we are the rest of our lives,” Adair said.