What the Ocean City Beach Project taught Josh Rupeka

When Josh Rupeka transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, his assigned roommate came as a complete surprise. And not a good surprise. “He was everything I disliked in a person,” Josh says. “He constantly drank and smoked. We did not see eye to eye.”

Compounding his culture shock, Josh had just finished the CCO’s Ocean City Beach Project, where he was surrounded by Christian student leaders. However, while OCBP had been encouraging, it had also been a hard time of refinement for Josh. And this refinement changed everything, including his response to his roommate.

“I was broken down repeatedly at the Project,” Josh says. “I knew all the right answers, but I didn’t let the Holy Spirit work through me. So with my roommate, I just kept asking myself, ‘What does God love about this guy?’ Then I would look for things that God loved about him.”

After a few weeks, Josh was in for another surprise when out of the blue, his roommate asked, “Do you believe I am going to hell if I don’t believe in God?” Reluctantly, Josh said yes, and a barrage of questions followed. Josh listened and did his best to answer them, and at the end of the conversation, he suggested that his roommate go on a prayer walk and ask God those same questions.

“What if I see God on the walk and just want to punch him?” his roommate asked. Josh told him that God could most certainly take it.

“He’d better,” his roommate replied. “No, you don’t understand,” Josh said. “He’ll take it because he already has.” His roommate grew quiet and left the room.

Amazed, Josh called a mentor from OCBP because he couldn’t believe that a guy who loathed God had agreed to go on a prayer walk. Everything about their conversation had been different, Josh told his mentor, because he had relied on the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit speak through him.

“At the Beach Project, I learned how to study the Bible for myself, instead of just pretending to know the right answers,” Josh says. “And so I knew where the answers were coming from, and they weren’t from me!”

This story isn’t over. Josh’s roommate still has a lot of questions and continues to struggle with destructive behaviors. But the work of the Holy Spirit also continues, and conversation by conversation, Josh is learning how to be a part of it.