More and more college students are using their spring break to do some good. Students from the Fellowship of Christian Students from Farris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, departed Friday from Monett, a rural province in Missouri, after spending a their spring break to help families rebuild their lives and recover from a tornado disaster last May.
Guiding the group is Pastor Mike Wissink. He the trip was something the students wanted to do after seeing the effect of the tornadoes on the news.
"We started planning this trip last fall," Wissink said. "We heard about the tornadoes [last year] on the news, and we really didn't research much after that. We got in contact with the Missouri Interfaith Group, and Bryan Crousore, administrator of the Missouri Disaster Response Organization. We knew in November that we would be coming here."
The group drove 16 hours from Michigan to further apply their experience of cleaning up after Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew and of performing service projects in Port Gibson for two years. Altogether, the campus ministry has been doing this type of work for 15 years said Wissink.
Even those who were not students pitched in to give a hand to the fellowship’s efforst. Both an alumni and graduate of the school of construction management, named Scott Dalstra, and a couple, Mr. And Mrs. Smallegans, have lent their expertise and been a “tremendous assistance” to the group.
Wissink said the focus of the ministry is not to only give aide to victims of disasters but to those who need it the most.
"Every year we take a service project, or trip, to help in areas of the country. Not every project is disaster-related, but all involve helping those who don't have the means to help themselves."
When they are not pulling trees from fences or cleaning up debris in places such as Monett, the students usually share grace in fellowship with each other.
"Most of these kids are involved in the campus ministry," Wissink continued. "They worship together and we have mid-week gatherings. We do fun things together as well."
From their visit to Monett, the campus ministry has done more than just provided labor for the community but they have also begun a perpetual cycle of giving and receiving blessings.
The group was provided with housing and meals by Camp Barnabas near Pulaskifield during their stay in Monett but in return the students have built a garage, strung miles of fence and replaced the metal on a barn for some of the residents near Liberty Church. Everyone was God’s blessing for each other.
"They have been a real blessing," Wissink said about Campu Baranbas. "They have taken a load off our shoulders with all the things they have done for us."
"These students have been such a blessing to us," said Tamra Sunby, someone whom the group helped.
However, this is not the end of the cycle of love.
"It looks like we could come back next year," he said. "There is a lot left to be done."