Nine countries, 90 weeks of mission, 900 volunteers required for active service: you may have seen them before — a group of people on the beach, in the summer, wearing red tops, running activities for children and families.
They are all volunteers working with United Beach Missions (UBM). They organise day time and evening activities without charge, enhance the holiday experience and, most importantly, share the good news of Jesus Christ.
They vary in age, education and employment. They are all Christians from different types of churches, desiring to winsomely share the Bible story and what Jesus means to them.
In a society which seems to be increasingly opposed to the gospel, it is easy to think the opportunity for mission less. That’s certainly not the case regarding the work UBM does on the beaches, and in cities where tourists go.
It is true that making the connection with the unchurched and ‘biblically illiterate’ requires wisdom and creativity, but, if summer 2015 is anything to go by, then the opportunity for meaningful conversations about Christ is increasing.
Despite rising antagonism towards Christian values from the media and government, many mums, dads, teenagers, children and others we meet are willing to talk about Christ. Often their ignorance of the Bible message means they are keen to find out more. It is these people, who might not ordinarily go to church, that UBM is able to reach.
But we need 900 volunteers (or about 1400 worker weeks) across the 87 missions we run. That will ensure teams will be strong enough to organise all they would like to do, and, perhaps more significantly, allow us to consider doing more missions next year.
There is scope to operate extra weeks at some of our current centres. Already this year, we have had invitations to consider other resorts. But we can’t expand unless we get more workers!
From its humble beginnings in Llandudno in 1953, the work expanded rapidly, so that centres like Skegness, Leysdown, Douglas, Paignton, St Ives and Broadstairs were added to the list of mission venues.
Now, more than 60 years on, UBM operates in about 35 locations, in nine countries: England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and — on continental Europe — France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.
You may see UBM working in some major tourist centres, such as Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh and Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, under the name ‘Christian Answer’. It also works with international students in Bournemouth.
Each UBM team member has come to a time in their lives when they have put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Their aim, in all their work, is to act in a Christian way and share with others what Jesus has done for them.
UBM teams are great fun for each volunteer, and it is amazing how much all learn just by being on a team and doing the work. Each day begins with prayer and learning from the Bible, and of course, there is great camaraderie and trust between team members as they share in activities and preparation for the week’s activities.
They go back home and are able to put into practice the ideas and principles they have seen succeed.
Foundation for service
Many look back to their years on UBM teams as foundational to growing in the Christian faith. They thank God that UBM was instrumental in equipping them to serve the Lord as church leaders, pastors, youth workers and even overseas missionaries.
So, can you pray that UBM will manage to find 900 willing workers this summer? Are there those in your church who might be able to take part? And, perhaps the most challenging question of all, could you join a team this year?
One myth that needs to be exploded is that UBM teams are only for the young. They are for all ages — from 15 to 115! As Jim Elliot once wrote, ‘We are a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody’.
For further details, contact [email protected] or telephone 0113 230 4362.
UBM Executive Officer