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Students impact community during spring break

Before Powder Puff players and fans left the field and began their Easter break, workers began transforming FCS and Peoples Church into the setting of a week-long camp. Volunteers constructed dozens of large tents as top-of-the-line speakers and lights converted the FCS gym into a concert auditorium for BreakAway.

Daniel Jessing

Students attend worship services during their time participating in BreakAway.

Spring break marks the start of BreakAway, an annual week-long camp run by Peoples Church. Almost 500 students spend five days sleeping in “tabins”, listening to speakers and serving various schools, non-profits and church across Fresno county.

The tenth annual BreakAway, BreakAway X, began during FC’s spring break, March 25. Despite changes from previous years such as inviting four speakers instead of one and pre-picking worksites as opposed to students choosing, the purpose behind BreakAway remained. Pastor Abdiel Pagan, who organized the event for the second time, says BreakAway gives students an opportunity to live out the Gospel.

“At The Chase, the goal is to inspire people to go after a God who is already going after them,” Pagan said. “BreakAway is about seeing that become real in our community. We want BreakAway to be a week where students grow a passion for seeing God do miraculous things in our city. We want to show our city the love of a God who is going after them with His whole heart.”

Daniel Jessing

Students volunteer at various locations to connect and serve the community they live in.

BreakAway campers spend five to six hours each day at service sites within Fresno County. Sites include renovation jobs at E.N.P. houses, helping at retirement homes and playing with kids at various community parks. Megan Leblanc, ’20, says she enjoys serving at parks and retirement homes and looked forward to each night’s chapel.

“My favorite part was hanging out with the kids and especially chapels,” Leblanc said. “The worship was really good and the messages were really motivating. I learned that God can be seen in many different aspects of the city in ways I didn’t even know. I went to a retirement home where I though Christ might not have been in the people’s lives and the owner started talking to me about Jesus and that was really surprising to me because I didn’t know if they knew Christ or not.”

Each night chapel at BreakAway starts off with worship, followed by a speaker. As the first of four speakers, Eric Samuel Timm kicked off the week, followed by Nate Schatzline, Jeremy Johnson and Mitch Redondo. Timm says he admires students willingness to serve and hopes their sacrifice has a positive impact on Fresno.

“What I love about BreakAway is I am tired, physically, emotionally, mentally, of watching the news and constantly seeing the youth of America portrayed in a negative way, because I know the students of today are our hope for tomorrow,” Timm said. “What I love about BreakAway is we get to see that on full display. Students restoring and displaying their communities, executing hope, being the face of love, and having the faith to believe in something bigger than themselves.”

While worship, speakers, and fellowship are staples of nearly every church camp, first-time attender Andrew Moore, ’21, believes BreakAway is set apart by its purpose of serving others.

At most camps you have sermons, worship and connection with peers and friends,” Moore said. “Although that is great, Breakaway provides all of that, and a one-on-one connection with our city. Breakaway for me was better than I could’ve expected. Having never been before, I came in on a perfect year. Spending time with friends and reaching out to the community made it an awesome time.”

Once the buses are back, campers eat their dinners and the worship team closes out the chapel with a final song, students still have another hour and a half to hang out around campus. For campus student Darrin Williams, ’19, growing closer to friends and making new ones at worksites makes BreakAway worth giving up some of his Easter vacation.

I signed up because its fun and I wanted to hang out with my friends,” Williams said. “I learned that some people really need people to show them the way of God. Its pretty cool seeing the kids light up and wondering why we were there and we got to tell them. It was also fun just to hang out with friends in the cabins.”

Next year’s BreakAway begins April 14. For more info on past BreakAways, read Breakaway 2017 promotes community involvement or Teens spend spring break serving, worshiping at Breakaway.

This author can be reached via twitter @brycer_f and via email: Bryce Foshee

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