JEFFERSON CITY — Life changing.
That’s how Carson-Newman University senior Keaton Hubbs describes her recent mission trip to Denver, Colo., with six other Carson-Newman students.
The December trip allowed the group to work with unhoused and refugee communities, as well as receive poverty relief training from North American Mission Board’s GenSend missionaries.
GenSend gives college-age students a chance to be on mission within one of the North American Mission Board’s Send Cities. The Tennessee Baptist Convention currently is in partnership with Send Denver.
Though it was not Hubbs’ first trip to the Mile High City, it was no less impactful.
The journey marked Hubbs’ third time working with GenSend in Denver. It’s a place she holds near and dear to her heart. “I would describe Denver as the area where the prodigal son would go on his way to spend all that his father had given him,” said the nursing major from Halls Crossroads whose home church is Salem Baptist in Knoxville.
“Denver is statistically the third loneliest city in the United States, and many young people move here to discover who they are and what they are going to do with their lives. The sad truth is that many people leave Denver lonelier than they felt before. …”
In Denver prior to Christmas, spreading joy was at the top of the “to-do list” for C-N’s group.
The team worked with Place Bridge Academy, a magnet school for refugee children from over 40 countries speaking some 35 different languages. Though GenSend already had a history of partnering with the school, it was the first time a student team was allowed in the facility to meet with students and faculty.
Beyond having lunch with the children during the week, Hubbs said fun events allowed for memorable connections.
“We passed out cookies to the students and desserts and thank you cards to the staff,” she said. “We also handed out Christmas presents to each child provided by an annual toy drive that has taken place for the last two years.”
Getting to know the children and learn about some of the hardships was a lot to take in.
“These (students) have gone through more in their lives than I will probably ever go through in mine,” Hubbs said.
“They are resilient and beautiful. Our prayer is that they will one day know the God who sees them, knows them, and loves them. …”
During their time, the team also led a prayerwalk on Denver’s Colfax Avenue. The group connected with those who were unhoused, taking time to talk and pray with them.
Chris Milligan, who serves as administrative assistant for Carson-Newman’s Campus Ministries, helped coordinate the trip. He said the trip was truly a blessing.
“The amount of growth that our students received during this trip was amazing, and I looked forward to our late-night conversations that showed the true fruit of their labors that week,” he said.
“All around, the trip was an amazing experience that led to our students and I deepening our relationship with God and with each other.”
According to Hubbs, the December trip is yet another service experience she will treasure during her time as a college student. She is already planning to return to Denver in March to continue the work that was started.
“A trip like GenSend Denver has impacted my life and education in more ways than I can articulate,” said Hubbs. B&R