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Area students lend helping hands in Louisiana disaster region

Area students lend helping hands in Louisiana disaster region
Area students lend helping hands in Louisiana disaster region | Baptist Collegiate Ministry
New Orleans, La. – Students from five Baptist Collegiate Ministry campuses in West Tennessee partnered to bring hope and peace at Christmas to families in the New Orleans, Louisiana, area over winter break. A team of 31 spent Dec. 13 – 18 in the Avondale suburb of New Orleans doing disaster relief work. Students and campus ministers representing the following campuses partnered on the Mission Trip: Dyersburg State Community College, Jackson State Community College, University of Tennessee at Martin, University of Memphis, and University of Tennessee Health Sciences in Memphis. “I loved the partnership and the spirit of cooperation and devotion that happened as a result of different campuses coming together. Students with different gifts and abilities gave a week of their winter break to meet the various needs of First Baptist Avondale,” said Jeff Jones, BCM Director at University of Memphis, “We worked hard and experienced God in our ministry. The kingdom of God was exhibited as we worked toward something from which we wouldn’t directly benefit, yet we knew that we were helping that church to focus on reaching their community.” First Baptist Avondale was the host church for the mission team, providing housing and materials. The teams worked on two homes for families connected with the church, as well as provided labor for renovations to the church main facility and annex. The church had been almost restored to original condition since being seriously damaged by hurricane Katrina, when this past fall’s Hurricane Gustav hit the church and surrounding community hard. The pastor, Rev. Marc Daniels reported that Gustav did as much damage, if not more, to the facility than Katrina. “We had several mission teams come down and help us get on our feet following Katrina …and now Gustav has set us back again,” Daniels said, “But thanks to the mission teams that keep coming down to help us, we’re about to get back up and running. It’s amazing how much work these students have gotten done this week. God has blessed us tremendously; the church has grown substantially this past year in spite of the hurricane.” The students were broken into teams doing construction, painting, stripping and re-waxing floors, installing replacement lighting and ceiling tiles, cleaning and re-organizing, and landscaping work. Teams were assigned to work on both the two homes and the church property. The students were also able to minister to people in the community during the week. On the last night, students and members of the church went around the community singing Christmas carols and visiting shut-in’s. Morgan Owen, BCM Director at UT-M said, “It’s been great to see a connection take place among the BCM students in West TN. The relationship within the BCM family makes this ministry encouraging and unique. It was amazing to see how God placed people in the exact place of service where they are gifted. As we continue to build this partnership, I’m excited to see what direction it will take in the years to come.” Owen also made note that God’s grace is sufficient for all of our needs, and being involved in a missions project such as this helps us keep things in perspective. “I took a team of 3 guys to help a local family whose home caught fire during Hurricane Gustov. When we walked in the home we saw the fire damage mainly confined to the kitchen. Our group helped with some of the painting needs. During that brief time I was humbled by my selfish thoughts from just days earlier when I was thinking how much Christmas shopping I had to do upon returning home. Yet, there I stood in the home of a family who was struggling to grasp just what Christmas would be like this year. God brings us to reality at times and challenges us to see what really is important in life,” he said. “These students are blessed with a variety of talents and are anxious to use their talents to serve the needs of others,” said Stan Cavness, BCM Director at Dyersburg State Community College and project leader for the Mission Trip, “It’s exciting to know that we have all these students who are using the talents that God has given them, and preparing themselves to be leaders in our churches and communities in just a few years. They represented their campuses and their home state well in Louisiana. The West TN BCM group is already talking with First Baptist Avondale about taking an evangelistic team down during winter break 2009 that could include a health fair for senior adults in the area. “Partnering with other west TN BCM’s for this trip was a great idea. The students and I loved meeting and working with each other. I am already looking forward to next year’s partnership trip,” said Amanda Lamberth, Interim BCM Director at UTHS. The students and grants from the Tennessee Baptist Convention Disaster Relief and the Dyer Baptist Association funded the Mission Trip. Finley Baptist Church provided a bus and driver, James “Bunny” Bailey, for transportation.

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