Wayland students donate half of Spring Break to work in community

Release Date: March 24, 2008

PLAINVIEW – After five days, 18 students and staff from Wayland Baptist University were covered in “Foxy” red-orange paint, sore and tired from painting and hosting a sports camp in a Plainview apartment complex.

Not your typical Spring Break plan for college students, but the consensus was a positive one. Instead of packing up for home, Wayland students representing three Plainview churches – College Heights Baptist Church, First Baptist Church and Stonebridge Fellowship – joined forces and stayed in town to minister at an apartment complex run by the Plainview Housing Authority.

“Our mission trips for the last two years were partnerships with churches, but each church has taken leadership on a different project,” explained Donnie Brown, Baptist Student Ministries director at Wayland. “This year, we just focused them all together. It was very effective work.”

For Tommy Young, university director at College Heights Baptist Church, the trip was a great way to serve the community and provide an affordable opportunity for students to be on mission.

“We started talking about this in the summer while we were planning our fall kickoff event, and it just seemed to make sense,” Young said. “There is a great need right here in our own town.”

So on Friday afternoon, as their fellow students were heading out of town, mission trip participants headed to the apartment complex to begin scraping the blue cinder-block walls for peeling paint in preparation for painting. They also hung flyers promoting the morning sports camp held Monday through Wednesday.

On Saturday, bright and early, the paint buckets, rollers and brushes came out and the harder work began. Sunday featured much of the same, with a brief break for a morning worship time. By the end of Wednesday, nine of the 26 units were completed. Plans are being made to hold a weekend workday to finish the complex by the summer.

The sports camp averaged 15 children over three days, and for two days was moved inside to the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church because of the chilly, windy spring mornings.

But by the afternoons, warmer temps meant the entire crew was back at the apartments with brushes in hand. Working alongside them for much of the week were Brown, Young and his wife, Teresa, and other university ministers Leanna Davenport from FBC and Curtis Beeman from Stonebridge.

The mission project was capped off Wednesday with a block party held at the apartment complex, featuring face painting, inflatable jumpers, hot dogs and snacks and other games. The group had a chance to visit with more children and their parents and build relationships they hope will blossom into ministry opportunities in the future. The students also had time to go home for the remainder of Spring Break and the Easter holiday.

The response from students was positive, though the work was hard.

“Painting isn’t always fun, but at the same time, it is, because you’re doing it for someone else and you know they appreciate it,” said Rosemary Ribera, a sophomore from Canyon. “It’s been fun to see the kids react to us and be so open to what we’re doing, too.”

“I really enjoyed being here. There’s such a need in the local community, and these kids just need someone to be around them and love them,” said Tamara Haney, a senior education major from Shallowater. “Since we can be that light here, I was excited to be able to stay here for missions.”

A group of WBU students from Stonebridge have been hosting a Kids’ Club after-school event on Tuesdays at the complex since the fall semester and hope the sports camp and the block party will increase their numbers and their opportunities to share the Gospel message.

“We say it over and over: you don’t have to go overseas to share the love of Christ; you can go across town,” Brown said of the week’s effort. “Hopefully, that’ll translate to the campus as well, that you don’t have to go on a mission trip to show God’s love; you can do it right here with your classmates.”