For most college students, winter break is a time to steer clear of anything work related. It is a time to test the limits of how long they can stay on the couch without getting up and how quickly they can finish an entire TV series on Netflix. For U of A Wesley college students, winter break meant something a little different.
Sixteen of our students joyfully sacrificed a week of winter break to volunteer in Memphis, in hopes of shining the light of Christ Jesus. Two volunteers, our college pastor, Rev. Emily Burch, and I, the college ministry intern, joined them.
In Memphis, we served alongside faith-based organizations Ozark Mission Project and Jacob’s Ladder. OMP coordinates work camps for volunteers in Arkansas and the surrounding states. Jacob’s Ladder seeks to restore an impoverished Memphis neighborhood, known as Belt Line, by renovating and building affordable rental homes for low-income individuals. Along with students from college ministries around Arkansas, we cleared empty lots, cleaned up litter, and renovated three homes, as well as sorted clothing donations for Memphis Habitat for Humanity.
Together, the group of college ministries sent three teams that week to Mississippi, where they assisted with cleaning up damage caused by tornadoes that hit the Holly Springs area two days before Christmas. The reach of the winter break mission project reached so much wider than we’d anticipated. When we all walked by faith, and not sight, the Lord presented us with several opportunities to be a blessing.
To refill the students after a day full of pouring themselves out, OMP coordinated nightly worship. Each night, a different college ministry led worship. When it was our turn, we led the group in some of our favorite praises including “How Deep the Father’s Love” and “Set a Fire.” There were also daily devotionals to teach others the heart behind Christian service.
We’d like to thank the church for all the support that we received before the trip, especially those who donated in exchange for Work Weekends projects and all those who prayed for the team during the mission trip. We’d also like to shout-out a big thank you to Jerry Linebarger and David Bragg, both Central members, who were our bus drivers and project coordinators. We are proud to be a college ministry of Central United Methodist Church and the Arkansas Annual Conference!
U of A Wesley College Intern