By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
More than 120 students from Baptist Collegiate Ministries throughout the state are forgoing a spring break trip to the beach in order to volunteer for disaster relief work in response to the overwhelming need to help out those impacted by recent flooding in Louisiana.
Among the BCMs already committed to participate next week with Louisiana Baptists’ disaster relief operations are University of Louisiana-Monroe, McNeese State University, Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University.
Students at LSU-Alexandria are preparing for spring examinations next week, and members of that BCM will join ongoing recovery efforts later.
BCM state missions coordinator Jamey Gilliland said being engaged in missions is a core value of all the BCMs in Louisiana and explained that campus ministers and state BCM leaders focus on getting students a missions experience multiple times throughout the year, including spring break, Christmas time and summer.
Gilliland and other campus ministers felt it was important this year to respond to this specific need right in their own backyard, he said.
“Often, our missions emphasis is on going to a different context to inspire a missionary vision that helps a student get beyond their preconceptions,” said Gilliland, who also serves as the director of the BCM at LSU-A. “Churches have entrusted resources to BCM to reach college students on the local campus. We have jumped at the chance to show our communities and churches that college students can be mobilized at home as well as abroad.
“We are committed to missionary work every year,” he continued. “But we feel it is a responsible and wise decision to stay local this spring break and share the love and hope we have in Christ by partnering with Louisiana Baptists Disaster Relief and the local church to restore people’s lives.”
Bill Collins, director of the BCM at Northwestern State, said his students had planned on going to another area of the state during spring break this year. But, he said he was not surprised the group changed its plans in order to work on homes in the Natchitoches area.
“That’s just who they are,” Collins said. “They want to be able to help.
“They like hands-on missions opportunities, and this is an expression of their faith,” he continued. “IT’s hard not to be proud of them.”
In the 15 years Collins has been participating in disaster relief efforts, he said he has not seen so many areas of the state impacted at one time.
“This is going to be a long rebuild,” Collins said. “I don’t think anyone outside the state understands the magnitude of this.”