Alabama Baptist students serve in Sandy Rebuild effort, other areascomment (0)
March 20, 2014
It is spring break time, and some Alabama Baptist students are choosing missions and ministry for their week’s agenda.
A Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) group from Troy University, along with state missionary Chris Mills, headed to Staten Island, N.Y., to help in the continued Sandy Rebuild effort through Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR).
Troy University student Ellen Barker, a member of Hepzibah Baptist Church, Troy, assisted in the work by doing what she described as small jobs and prayerwalking the neighborhood.
“I really enjoyed this missions opportunity,” she said. “Even though we were there to help rebuild from Hurricane Sandy, our ultimate purpose was to share the Word with New York and start planting God’s seed.
“Even though we didn’t talk as much about our faith to the family we helped as we’d hope we would be able to, we got to demonstrate our Christian lifestyle,” Barker said. “I know the family will always remember the people who helped them in a time of need. ... Hopefully we planted a seed that someone behind us will start to cultivate.”
Ronda and Randy Corn, who are helping coordinate volunteers in the area, will welcome nearly 200 students from more than six states during a two-week period to assist in the cleanup and rebuild work on the island.
When the Corns arrived in Staten Island in November 2012 — just five days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall — they didn’t think they would still be there today.
“Randy and I have been here since the beginning,” Ronda Corn said, “and we plan to stay until the end. There’s still such a mess here. Homes are gutted and unlivable. People are displaced. Below the surface there is just so much hurt. Time has passed and media attention has faded, but the people here still need so much help.”
Serving under local construction team leaders and fellow SBDR volunteers, students will hang Sheetrock, tile floors, install doors, put up walls — anything to help homes become livable once again.
“The students work with a construction team leader and learn a lot about skilled labor,” Corn said. “It’s hard work but really an awesome experience.”
The experience is a stark contrast to the way many college students spend spring break. SBDR built a volunteer village on a three-acre field on Staten Island, complete with shower, kitchen and water units. Students will camp in tents built specifically for Sandy Rebuild workers. With New York closing out one of its roughest winters yet, volunteers face the difficult challenge of braving the elements.
“Weather conditions this season haven’t made our work easy, and we’ve tried to prepare students for the potential wet and cold weather we’ve seen all season,” Corn said. “They’re all still excited to serve. For all of us, it’s not about the project itself; it’s about the people. That’s been our motto from day one, and keeping the hearts of the people we’re serving in mind has helped tremendously on the difficult days.”
It’s not just the hearts of the people they’re serving but the hearts of the college students as well that the Corns and their team hope to see changed. “Our main goal is that the gospel goes out to the people, both the ones we’re serving in Staten Island and the college students here doing the work,” Corn said. “There are opportunities for the body of Christ to minister both inside and outside our camp.”
“March equals Spring Break for Alabama college students,” he said. “The stories of the impact of Spring Break missions continues to encourage me — from students leading locals to Christ to student missions teams connecting locals [to] a church to students seeing the great opportunity to obey the Great Commission and give of their time on their campus, this summer and beyond to make a Great Commission impact. So often, those are the stories that come out of Spring Break missions opportunities.
“The Sandy Rebuild effort was a vivid picture of partnering to make an eternal impact,” said Mills, noting the students partnered with SBDR personnel from NAMB and state conventions, including a feeding team from Birmingham Baptist Association.
“The collegiate disaster relief effort allowed these students from Troy University the opportunity to help finish out a basement area that was flooded during Sandy ... and also sought to encourage the family by sharing the hope of Christ,” he said. “The Ukrainian family that owned the home expressed gratitude for the students’ work.
“I believe that students will walk away from this effort with a great image of this partnership and the impact that is made as we work together with the same purpose — to make His name known among all nations.”
Students have virtually year-round service opportunities now with Sandy Rebuild. To explore more about assisting in New York, visit www.namb.net/sandy.
Other Alabama Baptist students are spending their spring breaks serving in Gulf Shores; New York City; Nashville; Wichita, Kan.; Texas; Ireland and Portugal. A BCM group from University of South Alabama also spent a week in mid-March in Miami. (TAB, BP)