By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
JENNINGS – More than 200 students from Texas traveled to southwest Louisiana in mid-July to help a dozen homeowners bounce back from damage caused by the August 2016 floods.
For a week, the middle and high school students from the organization Bounce Student Disaster Recovery worked to repair homes still wrecked by the previous high water.
During the day, the students installed flooring, painted walls, built wheelchair ramps and re-roofed homes. First Baptist Church in Jennings provided housing for the students and Bounce team leaders provided meals.
Brian Wells, minister of education and senior adults at First Baptist Jennings, said the students’ labor of love in the community left behind many seeds planted in the lives of the homeowners and other residents.
“People from our community and parish were very grateful for them coming in and providing an expression of God’s love, compassion and hope,” Wells said. “To see people still concerned after 11 months and wanting to help really put us as the church in a good light.”
Wells recalled the joy and gratitude he encountered at each site he visited.
“They would come to tears when you asked them about the help they were given,” Wells said. “One senior adult has been going down five steps to get out of the house and a team built a wheelchair ramp to help her make it down without such a strain on her body.
“To see these kids actually living out that testimony of praying with people was a blessing to my heart,” he continued. “Seeing that large number of kids in a unified heart was really a good thing.”
Bounce participant Jamie Buford reiterated the appreciation shown by the homeowner who received the new ramp.
“Being able to go out and provide a service for someone who can’t do it for themselves or can’t afford to do it, I think that’s what being a Christian is really about,” Buford said. “I think we look past the fact, too often, that God calls us to give to others and we just look at what we get from Christianity.”
Dominic Lara said the week gave her a chance to put her faith into action by serving others.
“Instead of thinking about yourself and ‘What I want to do,’ you’re thinking about ‘What do others need from me,’” Lara said. “And I think that’s really important about Bounce.”
By the end of the week, Kamryn Martinez said she was reminded of how they were used to restore hope, rebuild the community and above all reflect Christ.
“It’s not all about you,” Martinez said. “There are other people in this world who go through so much more than you. So it’s cool to hear other people’s testimony and see the things that they do.”