Video: Spring break evangelists

By Roger O’Neil Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/11/2005 12:28:46 PM ET 2005-04-11T16:28:46

It's the full house hand of spring break — sun, surf, sand, suds and sex.  But in Panama City, Fla., a dealer with a different deck is on the beach.

Matt Reis is one of 3,000 students from 180 colleges spending their vacation evangelizing.

“We're driven with a motive, and we're down here for a purpose: to tell people about Jesus,” he says.

Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the biggest Christian evangelical groups, has been spreading the gospel for 50 years. But in the last decade, its numbers have tripled to more than 50,000.

Becca Johnson senses a new yearning on the beach this year, to hear what she calls “the good news of God.”

“They're willing to listen to me, about my relationship with Christ, because they see that my life is more fulfilling than just drunkenness and sex,” she says.

Whether you're walking the beach for Jesus or spreading the gospel of creationism with dinosaurs, opportunities abound to spend your vacation with your faith. There are hiking trips in the Grand Canyon, cruises to the Caribbean and even theme parks for Christ.

Ken Hovind takes evangelizing a step further at his Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola.

“I tell everybody right up front, ‘I’m after you. I want to see you converted,’” says Hovind.

From Hovind’s back-yard ministry to a new state-of-the-art, $25 million Christian museum near Cincinnati, the "evolution's a lie, creationism's the truth" message is growing.

“We're unashamedly Christian,” says Ken Ham, the president of Answers In Genesis, an organization dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith. “We believe that what the Bible claims to be, ‘the revealed word of God,’ is that.”

But skeptics worry about this single-message mantra.

“To teach kids that creationism explains something about the world is no different than teaching them that the earth is flat,” says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life at Boston College.

Evangelicals admit they feel emboldened to deal God's word aggressively now, and they think the Bible's message is a winning hand.

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