This year, we partnered again with the BCM on campus and Arkansas Baptist Builders (ABB) for a Spring Break trip to New Orleans. Our team consisted of 18 college students and two leaders. The majority of the students were from the University of Arkansas, but five construction management students from JBU also joined the group. In addition to partnering with ABB to dry-wall a house, we partnered with a local church (Edgewater Baptist Church) doing street ministry (prayerwalking, evangelism and trash-pickup), canvasing neighborhoods with over 1200 invitations to their Easter celebration and their homeless ministry. It was an amazing trip and we all look forward to next year. Below are some blogs from a few of the students on the trip.
Category Archives: New Orleans
I didn’t feel so much that I learned something new as much as God reinforced what he had already taught me. We hear so much about putting our faith into action and loving people as Christ loved, but I rarely took the opportunity to do so. I felt God putting it on my heart to live that out this trip, and he was faithful in making it happen. He showed me that I needed to have a patient attitude, be slow to anger, and quick to forgive, especially when working with as diverse a group of people as we had. God also took away any fears I had of reaching out to society’s outcasts. Probably the most touching part of my trip was interacting with the homeless under I-10 and getting the privelege to pray with them and meet some needs. They were for the most part very receptive and grateful. One older Asian man even gave us some spiritual advice, citing the importance of praying every day. He said that there are a lot of people in terrible conditions down there, and most should be dead. God must love them, he said.
Written by Adrian Beirise
“The red dragon’s left thigh is sweaty!” A burst of cool refreshing air comes out of the vents, and all the passangers roll over to find a new and different sleeping position. I’m not a story teller. I feel like I should be drawing pictures as well when I write like that. Anyways, I’ll just put down a few thoughts. The drive down was a great time to get to know each other. When I was in the corner restaurant, and Andrew called, we had a whole conversation and I was able to wave at him (and see him) off of a window, but I couldn’t see him directly. It was neat. Going to bed every night and finding something different in my sleeping bag was always exciting. Playing cards late at night and just laughing in general. What Daniel said [at the end of the trip] is tootallly true. Short mission trips benefit the individuals who go on them so much more than the locations that they serve. It was neat to spend some time with people there in New Orleans, though.
Written by Jacob Porter
God taught me so much on this trip, but the dominant theme for me was the power of God to use us if we follow his leading. When I heard about this trip, I was immediately interested in going. I don’t know why, but I felt drawn to go minister to the people of New Orleans; however, I never imagined how much God would use us to bless the people, as well as use the people of New Orleans to teach us about ourselves.
Going into the work week, I expected to mainly do construction work and hopefully get the opportunity to talk with a few people about the lord. I soon found out that God had so much more in store for our group. Along with the construction work, we had the opportunity to prayer walk much of the city, as well as handing out food to the homeless and helping the church we stayed at in their efforts to reach the people of the city.
For me, the most meaningful thing we did the entire week was going to a city of tents underneath the overpass. It was a quite depressing, as well as eye-opening experience for almost all who went. At first, all I could do was to stare at the horrible conditions these people experience and have become accustomed to. After the shock finally wore off, I was overcome with a feeling of wanting to help, but feeling totally helpless and not knowing what to do. Fortunately, other people I went with were able to talk with these people and hear some of their stories, even getting the opportunity to pray with some. Leaving Tent City, I felt very depressed and realized how much I take the blessings of God for granted.
The second time to visit Tent City, I did not want to go at first, but felt almost prompted to go back. On the bus ride back over, I was praying that God would help me to be a blessing to the people we were about to meet. God certainly heard my prayers because when we got there I felt a certain peace and like I was there for a reason. All 6 people my group was able to talk to were thrilled that we wanted to pray with them and I feel they were encouraged and blessed by the fact that we cared and to hear that God loved them. I cannot even describe the feeling of getting to pray with these individuals and hopefully will never forget how that felt.
If I had not followed God’s leading to go on this trip, I would have missed this amazing experience, as well as the special relationships that developed in the group that was full of almost total strangers just a week earlier. God truly does bless us when we follow his leading with an open mind and an open heart.
Written By Brad Burns
One thing that caught my hearts attention was the great diversity in the team. There were a lot of different people from various friend groups that came together and made the work run very smoothly.
It was a real blessing to me just to see everyone work so well together and help each other out along the way. Being the team construction leader I was able to see attitudes and struggles develop as the work rolled on. I felt like everyone worked very hard and especially with a Christ like attitude. There was no complaining or arguing that I could see. This greatly blessed me. I had an awesome time and can’t wait until next year.
Written By Joel Rothhaar
Working with Edgewater Baptist was the most regarding experience of this trip. Going alongside this church and helping them accomplish God’s plan for their local body was a true blessing. Short term mission projects should involve partnering along with what God is already doing and will continue to do. It was a definite delight to simply canvas the church’s neighborhood and prayer for the lives they will touch. Being able to serve in Edgewater’s vision for their community encouraged me to have a heart for my community. Getting to talk with the members of Edgewater was a mind-blowing experience. I will never forget speaking with Larry and hearing him say, “Don’t feel sad for me.” Larry and many others took a hold of God and His plan for them. Their faith was greatly increased by a tragic circumstance. I pray that if I am in a circumstance similarly tragic, I would also allow God to increase my faith. The people of Edgewater are each true blessings and encouragements to my life and the people God will leave them to encounter.
Written By Amy Warren
On Tuesday morning our team split into groups; each one heading off to do different things. Most of the team continued hanging drywall, another group went to do yard work for a Katrina victim, and I volunteered for the group that was going to distribute free lunches to homeless people.We were headed to “Tent City”: a dense cluster of makeshift shelters – not just dusty and blackened camping-tents, but tar smeared blankets, boxes and out-of-place furniture under an overpass in the city. I saw a couch someone must have dragged out of a house somewhere. I saw an empty milk jug that someone had been using to pee in, uncapped, and setting next to their tent, half full. In fact, the whole place reeked of urine.
As Amy, Erin and I got arm-fulls of water bottles and lunches, and crossed the street into the shadow cast by the overpass, almost immediately a woman – who had sunglasses perched on her head, an expensive-looking but dirty red jacket, slacks and a wrist watch – appeared and curtly asked for two waters and two lunches. she snatched them and was gone even before she had finished saying thank-you.
A huge black man with dreadlocks – who moved slowly – came walking towards us. He was cradling a walkman in one hand; the headphones he had pulled down and left hanging on his neck. We found out his name was Kerry. He wanted us to pray that he would be cleared of the drug possession charges he was facing, and explained, at length, that his doctor had prescribed marijuana; that in the confusion following Katrina he had lost the papers he needed to prove it.
While we talked with Kerry, an obviously mentally ill woman wandered over to us and clutched the lunch we gave her. I could see some kind of diseased lesions on her arms and shoulders. I don’t know enough to guess what they could have been, but they looked painful. She talked to us – pretty incoherantly – about her son, who was in prison, and gave us each a perfunctory hug.
A man named Alfonzo accosted us and gratefully accepted his lunch and water. When we asked him if we could pray for him, and what he needed, he began talking loudly about what had happened to him. In an attempt to get out of New Orleans after the hurricane, he had stolen a truck. He was caught and thrown in prison for some months. His numerous subsequent attempts to find a place to live had failed, and he was now left with nothing. He was addicted to drugs, and very angry. Throughout his story, he emphasized over and over that – before Katrina – he had been a church-goer, a baptist, and a member of the church chior. We prayed with him, then, and when I had finished praying, he launched into an impassioned prayer of his own. He asked God to forgive him, and railed against his situation. He lamented the power of the devil in the city, and expressed confidence in his belief that the flood was punishment from God for the city’s evil ways.
I had prayed with both Kerry and Alfonzo, and I wondered If I had prayed for the right things. With Kerry, I didn’t want to pray that he would be cleared of his drug charges, since I didn’t feel like it was the most important thing. Instead, I prayed that God’s will would be done in his life, that God would make his love and kindness apparent to Kerry in a way that he can understand – that God would not only alleviate Kerry’s material situation, but show Kerry that he needs a savior. That much I could pray wholeheartedly, and without reservation, so I did. Kerry seemed okay with that. With Alfonzo, I prayed a similar prayer. I wonder what will ultimately be the greater testimony to people like Alfonzo and Kerry. WIll it be people like me and my team mates who prayed with them? or will it be that we simply listened to them?
It hurt that the people in tent city didn’t understand what we wanted to offer them. They could understand the food and water – they saw that they had a need for that. But so many of them refused our prayers, saying they didn’t need that. We were confronted with the problem of helping the lost to see their need for the Lord. When I come face to face with such spiritual blindness, I feel inadequate, and lost. I do not know what the proper response is – because all responses seem inadequate. Often I am paralyzed between the desire to be courageous enough to offer that which they need but do not want, and the desire to be sensitive to their condition, and to not push them away from the truth by being presumptuous in assuming I have all the answers.
As I left Tent City, I had a lot of questions to think about, but mostly, I think I was thankful. I don’t know if we changed any lives, but I’m happy to leave that up to God. I know that he has works prepared for me, that he uses me in ways I can’t begin to understand, and that my simple obedience is enough. Feeding the homeless in tent city was bewildering in that I felt totally inadequate, and almost futile, but my trust in my God, and his care for me, is renewed because of it.
Written By Daniel Gateley