Texas-size help: Youth work on local projects

Published 4:57 am Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sixty-five students and other volunteers from a church in San Antonio, Texas, recently spent a week in Bogalusa to serve as a visible example of their Christian faith.

David Ransom, a student leader from the University United Methodist Church in San Antonio, said that this was the second year in a row that the group has visited Washington Parish.

“One of our members, Sarah Morris, is from Bogalusa and she knew that there was a lot of people in this community who needed help,” he said.

The student group arrived Saturday, July 14, and scoped out several projects for community members in need. They worshiped on Sunday, July 15, at several local churches, and then began working on their projects Monday and continued through Thursday. On Friday, they enjoyed a day with more leisurely activities, including tubing on the river.

Ransom said that the 65 students were split into nine teams — eight of those teams worked on projects in Bogalusa, and one worked on a project in Angie. Two teams were in charge of activities in the community, including block parties, baseball camps, and running a Vacation Bible School.

Projects to help community members included re-doing a metal roof, installing two wheelchair ramps, repairing floors and painting. Some of the students worked on an improvement project at ESM United Methodist Church.

On Thursday, a group of nine students and two adult volunteers worked to finish up a wheelchair ramp for Bruce Bidwell on Avenue E in Bogalusa. He smiled as he watched the young people labor on the project.

“I just think it’s a blessing from God himself, to send these kids to do this,” Bidwell said. “They are hard workers, and quick learners. I hope that they serve as an example and can encourage some of our kids here in Bogalusa to do the same.”

Maddie Guirl, one of the student volunteers at Bidwell’s house, said that she really enjoys working on the projects each year.

“It’s definitely so rewarding to see the smiles on the homeowners’ faces once we’re done,” she said. “I love that through projects like this, we can spread the love of Christ.”

Even while sweating in the hot July sun, and using the hard labor of power tools and craftsmanship, the group always kept its faith in mind. Ransom said that they worshiped every night at Pearl River Community College, and last Sunday attended services at four local churches — ESM, St. Paul A.M.E., Superior Avenue Baptist and Monroe Street Baptist.

“The whole idea about this project is for us to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Ransom said. “But it’s not just about the work, it’s also about building friendships and relationships with those we travel to help. Our real goal is to demonstrate how we celebrate Christian living in our everyday lives, and not just in our church on Sunday.”