While many students flock to the beach in search of warmer weather and recreation, U of A Wesley students took Spring Break as an opportunity to serve the Lord through serving others. The team of eleven set out with excitement the first Sunday of Spring Break, eager to reach their destination: the rural community of Dermott in Southeast Arkansas.
In April of 2016, many rural communities in Southeast Arkansas were affected by major flooding. Since the flooding, very few teams have traveled to the area to help, leaving many of the elderly and disabled with homes in disrepair. In Chicot County alone there are nearly 300 homes still needing repair. The U of A Wesley leadership team felt this was the place God had called them to serve.
Disasters like floods are sure to overwhelm anyone, but imagine being alone, having a disability, and living on a limited income. This was the situation for one homeowner named Bill. After waiting a year, Bill had almost given up hope that anyone would come help him restore his home of twenty years, but early Monday morning the U of A Wesley team arrived and began work to help Bill put his life back together. With a deep appreciation for Bill’s challenging situation, they sprang into action cleaning, removing old drywall, insulation, and installing doors.
When each day’s work was done, the group headed back to camp to shower, eat, rest, and share in worship together, closing out each night with a devotional led by a different team member. It was a peaceful time to re-energize for the coming day’s work.
By the end of the week, Bill’s house was well on its way to completion. The team’s hard work truly paid off. Mudding was almost finished. All the doors had been replaced. Walls were ready to be painted, and the kitchen had been treated for mold and was now ready for new cabinets. Other teams would soon follow to finish painting, install new flooring, and finish the kitchen.
When asked why she wanted to attend this mission trip, student leader and U of A freshman Annabel Glover expressed, “I didn’t want to just go home for Spring Break. I wanted to do something that would push me to grow in my faith through service.” Reflecting on the week, many of the students said that seeing the need in Southeast Arkansas inspired them to want to make a difference in their own communities. “I had no idea that kind of desperate situation existed so close to home,” Annabel said.
Though many people think of “missions” as work to be done overseas, U of A Wesley students discovered that there are many needs right in our own backyard. When Christ calls, he doesn’t always ask us to go far away to serve; He often asks us to address the needs of those much closer to us.
U of A Wesley Alumni & Development Coordinator