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Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
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By Sara Shelton
NEW YORK – One of the biggest parts of the
continued Sandy Rebuild effort is the arrival of college students sacrificing
their spring breaks to serve the people of Staten Island. This year Southern
Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers will welcome close to 200 students
from more than six states over the course of two weeks to aid in the cleanup
and rebuild work on the Island.
When Ronda and Randy Corn arrived in Staten Island, N.Y.,
in November 2012—just five days after Hurricane Sandy
made landfall—they didn’t
think they would still be there today.
“Randy and I have been here since the beginning,”
Ronda Corn explains, “and
we plan to stay until the end. There’s
still such a mess here—homes are gutted and unlivable,
people are displaced. Below the surface there is just so much hurt. Time has
passed and media attention has faded, but the people here still need so much
Serving under local construction team leaders and fellow
SBDR volunteers, students will work on hanging sheet rock, tiling floors, hanging doors, putting up
walls—anything to help homes become livable once again.
“The students work with a construction team leader and learn
a lot about skilled labor,” Corn explains. “It’s
hard work but really an awesome experience.”
The experience is a stark contrast to the way many college
students spend spring break. SBDR built a volunteer village on a three-acre
field on Staten Island, complete with shower, kitchen and water units. Students
will camp in tents built specifically for Sandy Rebuild workers. With New York
closing out one of its roughest winter’s
yet, volunteers face the difficult challenge of braving the elements.
“Weather conditions this season haven’t
made our work easy, and we’ve tried to prepare students for the
potential wet and cold weather we’ve
seen all season,” Corn says. “They’re
all still excited to serve. For all of us, it’s
not about the project itself; it’s about the people. That’s
been our motto from day one, and keeping the hearts of the people we’re
serving in mind has helped tremendously on the difficult days.”
It’s not just the hearts of the people
they’re serving, but the hearts of the college students as well
that the Corns and their team hope to see changed.
“Our main goal is that the gospel goes out to the people,
both the ones we’re serving in Staten Island and the
college students here doing the work,”
Corn says. “There are opportunities for the body
of Christ to minister both inside and outside our camp.”
Just last year the Corns met a student named Belle. Though
she didn’t know Christ, she signed up to serve
with her fellow students. She returned to her campus after the week with a new
curiosity about Christ and, after talking with her group leader, placed her
faith in Christ. This year, Belle is returning to serve and share what Christ
did in her life through service to Staten Island last year.
“It’s an incredible story,”
Corn says. “This girl came to know Christ, and
since then, has been walking with her roommate as she begins to seek Christ in
her own life. She’s even kept in touch with the
homeowners she served last year, helping point them to Christ as well. Just one
story like this—one soul coming to know the Lord
through serving here—that makes all the difference.”
Students have virtually year-round service opportunities
now with Sandy Rebuild. To explore more about assisting in New York, visit http://www.namb.net/sandy.
From its disaster operations center
in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates Southern Baptist responses to major
disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which
have their own state disaster relief programs.
Southern Baptists and others who want
to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions
or contribute to NAMB’s
disaster relief fund via http://www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to
donate are to call 866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543,
Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Sara Shelton writes for the North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 3/11/2014 4:20:04 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC