As preparations and plans were being made to assist Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, the Collegiate Disaster Relief (DR) Team at The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) was instructed to stand down due to Florida being in the destructive path of another storm, Hurricane Irma. After much prayer and lead team assessments, it was determined that the BCF DR Team would be redirected and focus their attention and efforts on their home state of Florida.
On September 15, BCF Associate Professor of Leadership and Collegiate Disaster Relief Director David Coggins and eight students made their way south, ready to serve the impacted communities in Naples, Fla. While in Naples, the BCF DR Team had the opportunity to work alongside Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers and many others who gave of their time and resources to help those devastated by the storm. They worked long hours cleaning up fallen trees and other debris, fixing roofs, removing belongings from homes that had damage from flooding, etc. They were able to stay at a local church and, in between their disaster relief efforts, they joined with other believers to pray and thank the Lord for His protection of life during the storm and protection during the cleanup efforts.
More than the tireless physical labor, Coggins and his team of students also sought to meet any spiritual needs of the hurting people that they came in contact with. BCF Student Ryan Edwards noticed the “willingness that people have in hearing the Gospel when all hope has been lost.” After experiencing several hurricanes himself and being able to sympathize with the pain of seeing your home torn apart, Edwards felt burdened to go on this trip and minister to those affected by the storm. BCF Senior Josh Woodcock noted that his favorite part of the trip was seeing “God work through us and in the hearts of all the people we served.” Woodcock stated that he tried to encourage storm victims with the truth found in Matthew 11:28-30, that when disaster strikes, it is essential to go to Christ, the only one who can give you rest.
The BCF Collegiate Disaster Relief Team was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people that were hurting as a result of Hurricane Irma. Coggins stayed behind for another week serving in a leadership position working with the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers. They were able to help many families move towards some form of normalcy and offer hope. After the trip to Naples, BCF students returned to campus with a renewed heartbeat towards serving others and preparing for areas of ministry and service.
For more information on collegiate disaster relief and how the faculty and students at The Baptist College of Florida are “Changing the World Through the Unchanging Word®” call 800-328-2660 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.