They are not in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to party. Their clothes are not skimpy or tight. They carry Bibles instead of beer cans. When they use the name of the Lord, it is not as an expletive but as a reference to a friend.
"I just hope to play the role of introducer," said Mark Crowder, a 20-year-old from Terre Haute, Ind. "I hope to introduce them to Jesus Christ, to tell them how much He loves them, to tell them how they should respond to that."
Crowder is one of 33 young men and women from a half-dozen campuses who paid $230 each, plus transportation, to be in South Florida this week to take part in the 25th annual Fort Lauderdale Evangelism Project. In the next three weeks, 300 more students are expected to join in the project, sponsored by the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
Fort Lauderdale is a good place to witness -- especially toward the end of each week of spring break, said Sue Cotten of Madison, Wis., who is the project director.
"By that time, they are disillusioned," she said of the students on the beach. "They come to party, and by then they find they didn't have that good a time drinking and getting hung over."
Her young evangelists approach youngsters on hotel balconies, on the beach and waiting to get into bars. She said she believes that the vacationers "like it very much when we listen. People respond to being loved. We try to be clear and honest, not deceptive, no underhandedness. We encourage our students to be up-front."