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BCF Press Release



November 5, 2015

Press Photo

BCF Disaster Relief Team Travels to South Carolina.

"We have been flooded five times before this but this is the worst. I don’t know if we can keep going through this!" That was the sentiment The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) students were confronted with when they arrived at a home near Charleston, South Carolina to assist with disaster relief efforts. On Sunday, October 18, twelve students with excused absences in hand, one staff member and one professor loaded a bus to join other Florida Baptist volunteers already serving in the Summerville, SC area, just north of Charleston. Florida Baptist Disaster Relief (FBDR) had been asked to establish a command center and operate in that area of the extensive flooding in South Carolina as a result of Hurricane Joaquin. Once the call to respond was issued to all of FBDR volunteers, David Coggins, Associate Professor of Leadership at The Baptist College of Florida and the Region 1 Coordinator for Clean Up and Recovery, knew this was the opportunity to serve that he had been talking to students about in class and around campus. So with a solid list of volunteers and a brief training session conducted for students was completed, the collegiate group from Graceville was ready to respond.

For many of the BCF students, this was the first time to ever be involved in this type of ministry. For students who participated in the disaster relief training, this was the first time they were given the opportunity to use that training. Two of the students that were trained and were able to use their training, are part of a class being taught for the first time since being added to the college curriculum in disaster relief. "I am excited about this class and the opportunity for students to get the hands-on ministry experience. One thing about disaster relief training, once you receive the training you hope to get the opportunity to use, but then you know that if you do someone is hurting. I wasn’t expecting to get real ministry experience this quickly in the class, but I am glad that our students were prepared and ready when the call came," stated Coggins referring to the new disaster relief class.

During the week of service, the students had the opportunity to serve alongside DR volunteers from all over Florida. There was nothing but praise for the hard work of the BCF students from FBDR volunteer blue hats that led the units’ work. During the unit leader meetings each night, Coggins heard glowing praise from other unit leaders about the work of BCF students. Coggins said he came away feeling that Florida Baptist Disaster Relief loves BCF college students, and for that he is very grateful. “This is a work in progress between the college and FBDR to get our students trained, credentialed appropriately, and then deployed to serve with a college unit or with other units in the state. We are making great steps toward building confidence among Florida Baptists that college students do have the desire and can be trusted to be given work assignments and ministry opportunities and will be faithful to complete those.” Delton Beall, State Director for Florida Baptist Disaster Relief said, “Disaster relief ministries is about making a difference in times of crisis and college students who get involved in disaster relief ministry learn life lessons that shape their hearts and minds for the rest of their life. Disaster relief gives a platform for students to engage their world in real life situations to extend the love of God. I believe experiences in serving will shape their ministry mindset for the future and strengthen the local churches they serve. I am grateful for the leadership of The Baptist College of Florida in equipping and calling upon their students to be difference makers through the ministry of disaster relief.”

This response by the students from BCF is just the beginning of service through FBDR for the college. “I don’t want this to just be a one-time experience,” stated Coggins. “I want this to be the beginning of a lifetime of practical ministry involvement that takes students outside the walls of the church and into their communities and across the country and world to serve others. I want our students that have a heart for this kind of ministry to have an opportunity to receive training and then be ready to serve when the next opportunity comes. I am grateful for our BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen who responded with an affirming yes when asked if we could take students. This ministry does and will continue to make a difference in people’s lives across the country and I want our students to have an opportunity to be part of that. I am also thankful for Florida Baptists’ in their acceptance of our students and seeing them as vital and trusted members of a disaster response team.”

According to Coggins, students had the opportunity to get firsthand experience with disaster relief. BCF student Michelle Clamser said, “Tearing down cabinets, sheet rock and pulling out carpets takes a lot of energy. The smell of mold can be unbearable, but knowing you are helping someone, that’s priceless.” Student JR Southard also stated, “I was stretched and my heart was truly broken for the survivors of the flooding in South Carolina. I was shocked by the damage that water causes and broken by the trust that our homeowners had to allow us to come in and work in their homes. I enjoyed the fellowship with my peers as we ministered together and this trip really opened my eyes and heart to disaster relief. I cannot wait to play my part in serving people through disaster relief efforts in the near future.”

The students collectively helped 15 families get closer to recovery and back in their homes during the four days they were working. The group had the opportunity to answer the overreaching question, “Why are you here?” by sharing their faith and hope that is in Christ. The group was able to pray with homeowners and once the work was completed they left a Bible with each family signed by the volunteers as a reminder that God sent someone to help them in a time of need and shared Christ with them. “That is really what it is all about, hope!” stated Coggins. The group encountered a man whose home had been flooded five times. He had a sense of hopelessness and dread. “When the group left, in both he and his wife’s voice and demeanor, there was a sense of hope and hopefulness that maybe things would soon be back to normal,” noted Coggins. This is what the students at The Baptist College of Florida learned and will continue to contribute to the Florida and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. There is hope and they will offer that in real and practical ways as commit to a lifetime of service in this ministry and through their churches.

For more information on collegiate disaster relief and how the faculty and students of The Baptist College of Florida are “Changing the World Through the Unchanging Word®” call 800.328.2660 ext. 460 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.