By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA (LBM)—Students with three Louisiana Baptist Collegiate Ministries took time out of a holiday weekend and a television schedule full of college football to minister to survivors of Hurricane Harvey.
Saturday through Monday, Sept. 2-4, 130 BCM students and leaders from LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State, with assistance from Living Hope Fellowship in Baton Rouge, gutted homes that had been flooded by rainfall from the epic storm.
They formed 14 different teams that each worked in one of four areas – Lake Charles, Moss Bluff, Orange, Texas and Port Arthur, Texas.
Blake Grundy, BCM campus minister at McNeese, told the Baptist Message that the trip was well suited for college students who have a heart of service.
“Many of the students who went on this trip have done mud-out work before, so they know the heartache the destruction causes the homeowner,” he said. “College students have time and the one thing our students love to do with it is to serve. They love to bless people for whom hope seems lost. For them, it’s one aspect of putting faith into action.”
Grundy said many of the students indicated their desire to make return trips to the hard-hit areas. He said they realize the needs are great and that it will take an army of volunteers like them to help rebuild communities impacted by Harvey.
“It’ll be neighbor helping neighbor, student helping student,” he said. “Trips like the one we took are a picture of what the kingdom of God is like. It’s not always the people you know and hang around with, but made up of people from all over the world. It’s a great picture of what the body of Christ is to look like.”
McNeese BCM student Mikey Hebert of DeQuincy said he was humbled when he prayed with a Moss Bluff homeowner whose house flooded for the fourth time this year.
“The guy was thankful for the work we did,” Hebert said. “I got to see the community that we are supposed to be as Christians — coming together for a common cause. We don’t do it for money or trophies but because we are called to do so. It was cool to see people coming together to love people we have never met.
“To see the outcome and how grateful the homeowner was made it worth it,” he continued. “It doesn’t take a lot of skill or practice to clean out the home like we did. You have to be willing. It’s rewarding because you get to spend time with brothers and sisters in Christ to do kingdom work. Even if you’re not saying a whole lot, you’re sharing Christ with your actions. It’s a blessing to improve someone else’s life for Christ.”
LSU BCM member Kaitlyn Bracey of Houston, Texas, said the trip lifted her up emotionally after she was unable to travel back to her hometown after Harvey made landfall.
“When we presented the Bible to the victim in one of the homes, she was in tears telling us that she didn’t believe people like us existed in this world that were so happy and willing to help without compensation for our work,” Bracey recalled. “She said Southern Baptist Disaster Relief inspired her to make it a point to go out and help people in need. I can’t wait to go back to more areas affected by Harvey.”
Fellow LSU BCM member James McCann of Zachary worked alongside others on his team to mud out homes in Lake Charles and Orange. McCann said it was an opportunity to give to others and to remember this world is only temporary.
“Meeting other people’s needs in this difficult time is what every Christ follower is called to do,” McCann said. “It was a reminder as I helped others carry out so many precious possessions and memories that were water logged that this is not our eternal home. Though it may feel like it because we earn the many possessions around us, I am reminded that my life is not built around my security in materialistic items, but in love and grace of His kingdom.”
Joe Wood, director of the Louisiana-Lafayette BCM, was encouraged to see his students mesh with the other BCM members and the homeowners.
“I saw students talking to house owners, encouraging them,” Wood said. “You bring three BCMs from all over the state, and to see them come together was a blessing.
“A lot of my students had homes that were flooded last year,” he continued. “They experienced that and wanted to give back because they were on the receiving end of help from disaster relief.”
Josh Causey, pastor of Living Hope Fellowship, said disaster relief trips such as this one was an effective way to engage college students.
“During the Baton Rouge flood in 2016 and our most recent trip to Port Arthur to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery, it was amazing to see God bring these age groups together in an effort to serve those in need of help,” Causey said. “There is a unique bond that forms in response to a crisis, between everyone involved, whether you are on a relief team or you are someone who flooded. I believe this bond will carry forward into more on-the-ground opportunities for ministry there, and for discipleship between students and adults here in our church family.”