“Opportunities like this help us shift our focus off of ‘me’ and focus on things that really matter,” Jana Phillips, a youth group leader at Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown, said as she watched students install new insulation inside a house in Port Arthur.
The house was flooded by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and the homeowner was still struggling to make all the repairs needed to restore their home. They were one of 18 homes helped by students who served on BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery’s Spring Break trips to Texas’ Golden Triangle.
Over 160 students and sponsors travelled to the Golden Triangle of Texas to rebuild houses damaged by Hurricanes Delta, Laura and Harvey in Beaumont, Port Arthur and other surrounding cities from March 11-17. They worked on a variety of projects, including installing insulation and drywall, painting homes’ exteriors, installing flooring and replacing roofs.
Blake, a senior from Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, explained that through the BOUNCE recovery work, homeowners are able to see Christ in the students.
“One of my favorite parts of coming to BOUNCE is helping people get back into the swing of their normal lives. Natural disasters have torn these places apart, and being able to come in and fix things that have been broken by these disasters is a great way, missionaly, that we can share the love of Christ,” he said.
Blake was part of a group reshingling a damaged roof in Beaumont. As the students worked, they joked and laughed. During lunch, the BOUNCE groups partook in a short devotional that challenged the students to reflect on what it meant to be the hands and feet of God.
In Port Arthur, a group from First Baptist Church of Kerrville listened to the testimony of homeowner Ramona Davis, whose home had been flooded by Hurricane Harvey. She explained that her home had never flooded before and that officials told her she was safe, but when the unprecedented and torrential rain hit the city, the water came up to the windows and into the house. She and her family had to wait 18 hours in the dark and water before they could be evacuated via helicopter.
“Through the storm I praised God the whole time,” Davis told students. “Give God the praises amidst the storm and amidst the hard times. We praised our way through, from twelve that night to seven that morning.”
The students helped put new flooring in her home and also installed three new doors. She thanked them for their help and praised the Lord for bringing people to aid in her home’s recovery.
In the evenings, students and leaders gathered together to sing in worship and listen to keynote speaker Brian Pierce, student pastor at Kingwood First Baptist Church, share about Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, even though he and his fellow laborers had little building experience. Pierce pointed out the similarities between the Israelites then and the BOUNCE students now, and explained that others saw God through their work. He encouraged students to be people of action for the Gospel.
“We must be men and women of prayer who then go and do,” Pierce said. “We should be people of action.”
BOUNCE was hosted by First Baptist Church of Nederland. Senior Pastor and Texas Baptists President Jason Burden explained that the church was happy to be a part of helping the students make a difference in their community.
“We’re proud to open up our doors so that they can come down here and do Christ’s work amongst people that really need help and the Gospel in their lives. They can make improvements in neighborhoods, they can restore hope and provide healing for our community,” Burden said. “We have been hit so often and so hard by tragedies, by storms and floods and other disasters. We’re thankful for all these students giving up a portion of their spring break, and we’re thankful for the leaders, for pouring their hearts and their time into the lives of these students.”
For more information about BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery and to explore options for getting your youth group involved this summer or fall, go to txb.org/bounce or contact Director David Scott at david.scott[at]txb.org.