Texas Baptistsí Bounce initiative to give youth missions, disaster recovery opportunitiescomment (0)
October 31, 2013
Pushed to their limits by a busy year of natural and man-made catastrophes, Texas Baptists are raising an army of youth to bolster disaster recovery campaigns across the state and region.
It’s called Bounce and is billed as a “pre-packaged missions experience” for high school and college-aged Christians interested in disaster response work, officials of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) said.
The program’s title was picked to convey its mission and impact, said Chris Liebrum, disaster recovery director for the BGCT.
“We wanted one word that said something about movement and the whole idea is helping communities bounce back from disasters,” Liebrum said.
Another bonus: students can commit to longer stretches of volunteerism during the summer and can also be available at Christmas and spring breaks, he said.
Texas Baptists are counting on that vigor and availability to make the Bounce program a success.
Organizers are making plans for up to 1,000 young volunteers the first year. Each Bounce project will consist of 250 volunteers who will be divided into crews of 10–15, each overseen by volunteer adults and one professional construction coordinator, Liebrum said.
The initiative is led by David Scott, a former World Changer national missionary.
During summer 2014, Bounce volunteers will work extensively in West, Texas, to help rebuild some of the estimated 150 homes destroyed in the April fertilizer plant explosion. Other groups will work in the area in and around Moore, Okla., to help tornado victims.
Liebrum said tentative discussions are underway to send teams to Colorado to help towns impacted by recent flooding. He predicted the program will eventually expand to include spring break and fall and winter break projects.
“The need for recovery is greater than we have volunteers to meet it,” he said. “These kids will be paying money to go on these trips. This will not be a bunch of kids slinging paint at each other.”
Dean Miller testified to the serious attitude youth bring to disaster relief. Plus younger volunteers in general have stronger backs and are more willing to put up with deplorable conditions longer than the average volunteer, said Miller, disaster relief coordinator with the Virginia Baptist Missions Board.
They also tend to be comfortable in the uncomfortable housing situations that usually accompany disaster recovery trips.
But Miller said he’s seen another benefit to youth volunteerism: the morale boost it can provide to the victims of disasters. “In some ways it can provide ... a hope in the future of young people,” he said.