By Ashley Perham
Baptist and Reflector intern
“For almost three years now, Tennessee Disaster Relief and The Baptist Collegiate Ministries in Tennessee have begun to work together to respond to disasters. We know that students have the desire to help,” said Wes Jones, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board disaster relief specialist.
“The students bring an enthusiasm,” he said. “They bring energy. They bring stamina that some of us older DR volunteers, perhaps, don’t have, and it’s just been a tremendous mixing of the generations.”
This past winter, several students from Tennessee BCMs were able to partner with Tennessee DR in Warsaw, North Carolina.
They were working to aid homeowners affected by Hurricane Florence in September 2018. The storm, the wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Carolinas, caused catastrophic damage.
“It’s pretty cool, because in a culture where, in our churches, it seems like we’re separated, this gives a chance for our students to come together, and meet people who are senior adults, or retired individuals and work together, and they just love each other,” said Jeff Jones, campus minister at the University of Memphis BCM.
Older DR volunteers taught the BCM students the skills of drywall and insulation.
“It’s been really incredible to work alongside people who are my grandparents’ age, basically, because they have all of the knowledge and lots of experience doing ministry like this … and then, the rest of us college age students are not very experienced, but we have the energy and excitement to get to work,” said Lauren Miller, Middle Tennessee State University student.
“It’s been really cool to see … just how well we work, and are able to serve better together,” she said.
Chuck Thacker, DR volunteer from First Baptist Gallatin, said it was a blessing and a miracle to work with the younger students and prepare them to “pick up the mantle” from the older DR volunteers.
“It’s all such an encouragement to us, to be able to see that those generations are paving the way for us to be able to pick this up and continue it on,” said Hannah Williams, University of Memphis student.
Partnerships between DR and BCMs are possible in part because of the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions.
“As Tennessee Baptists give through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, it allows us to take these students and train them, and it allows us to assist them in going on these trips, to serve others, and to share Christ with others as they go,” said Wes Jones. B&R