Nine Christian Challenge students from across Kansas (and Flint Hills Association) recently returned home after a 2500 mile trip to New York. For three days they ministered to families on Stanton Island cleaning mud out of homes impacted by Hurricane Sandy. KU campus minister Rick Clock says “I had an excellent team of students. They were hard working and good-spirited servants. They were a blessing to many of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.”
This team came together when the North American Mission Board opened Disaster Relief opportunities for students during semester break. When NAMB contacted Larry Thomas, KNCSB Disaster Relief Coordinator, he contacted Rick Clock. Clock is an experienced volunteer involved with the KNCSB disaster relief team. An invitation was sent to college campuses and the team was formed.
Below are testimonies shared by the students about their experience in New York.
Matt Langworthy, Washburn University
This trip for me was just a step in what has been a long journey. This was my fourth Disaster Relief trip and my sixth overall mission trip. I know what it means to be a servant because I am on my ministry team at my campus Christian Challenge. I know what I am doing to be a leader-servant on campus. Lately I have been convicted about helping the area around me. I have taken the Gospel to Jerusalem (Washburn) and the ends of the earth (Asia) but have neglected Judea and Samaria. That is why when I go back I will seek out opportunities to serve around the Topeka community. It doesn’t take going thousands of miles away to help people in need. This trip helped me realize that in a more clear way.
Sarah Smith, K-State
This trip was sudden and unexpected but I am thankful that God opened a way for me to come and to serve. It was touching to see the diversity of New Yorker’s along with their unity in helping those
affected by Hurricane Sandy. God has used the storm in wonderful ways- allowing new relationships to begin and the Gospel to be shared.
Cassidee Connors, Pittsburg State University
Among many things about this trip, it was a reminder to me of God’s grace. The work was laborious but we all worked so well together encouraging one another, learning from each other and keeping
a positive attitude. The homeowners affected by the disasters well as others in the community repeatedly expressed their gratitude. This was something that struck my heart because I don’t deserve their thankfulness. It was a reminder to me that it is only by the grace of God that I was and am at the place I’m at. Staying busy at work there was plenty of time to think and talk to God. I thought about what a huge blessing it is for us to serve together to accomplish whatever it is God wanted us to. I was also reminded that my identity is in Christ alone and all those who have accepted Christ and choose to do the will of God are my family. I realized that i spent much time trying to find my identity in who my friends said I am, or who my family says I am, but all that matters is who God says I am. And this is why I chose to go on this trip because I know it is what God wanted and I know there will be many more opportunities to serve Him. This scripture came to mind one day while working “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50
Olivia Walterman, Kansas University
As I rode around the streets of Staten Island, NY, most of the houses appeared to be good from the outside, but once you opened the door and looked inside, they were a wreck; they were torn apart.
After speaking with some of the residents, I realized that many people are the same. They appear to be doing okay on the outside, but on the inside, they’re broken and torn apart. Many would say “Why even bother? You can’t reach them all.” I would say, “If I can bring hope to even one, is that not worth it?”
Rachel Baker, K-State
I have realized that I need to re-center my thoughts. During the trip, it was made clear that my focus was often on myself. I am working on turning my destructive thought patterns into ones that benefit and honor God and others.
Lauren Doherty, Washburn University
I am learning how to be a servant. Being a servant means you are willing to go and help others in their time of need. A servant is patient and ready to help at a moments notice. They joyfully serve the Lord while spreading His Word.
Rikki Miller, Pittsburg State University
Throughout this trip I learned that even the smallest hint of kindness or love can make the biggest difference in someone’s life. I feel that in these three days of working, we barely made a dent in the recovery process, but it meant so much to the people, even those not directly impacted, to see people caring about them. This inspires me to become a better servant and get involved to show God’s love all over the country, and maybe even the world.
Matthew Beattie, Washburn University
This was the first ministry that I have worked on that has required me to leave my home town. It was great to be able to show God’s love to others in this very practical way. It was so amazing to see how such a small act can mean so much to an entire family. It was great being able to get to know the people who we were serving. This was something that I had not expected. It was also good to meet and get to know people from the other universities in the state and to be able to work alongside them to serve the Lord. What a fantastic experience!
Rachel Smith, K-State
This trip was about learning to lay myself aside – working hard – or even waiting and being willing to work. Whatever I was doing this week I constantly found myself “is this hard because I’m not found on Christ?” Am I concerned about my glory? My comfort? Why isn’t my full joy coming from just serving Christ right now? When I was at the center, joy was unthinkable – but in moments of clarity and reflection joy was present all along. As always a great experience of learning and growing.