Campus ministries have been flooding the U.S. Gulf Coast with college students in the last few weeks, many of whom attested to a life-changing experience.
"I asked [the students] three questions," said Greg Crowley, campus director for The Navigators at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. "‘What's your favorite story from the week?’ ‘How did you see God at work?’ ‘How are you going to take this experience home with you when you get back?’
"All the students said it was life-changing."
The Navigators ministry has kept a line up of students from campuses across the nation flowing into the hurricane-ravaged areas and the Minnesota group just returned from their weeklong aid efforts this past weekend.
During spring break, Crowley took 23 students, which included nonbelievers, to New Orleans where they stripped two houses, one of which housed a single mom and her 11-year-old child, of its walls and debris.
The Minnesota students worked alongside a slate of young adults from various other groups.
"I saw teams of young people partnering with churches," said Crowley.
The Navigators team was not alone. Partnered with Trinity Church in Covington, La., the Minnesota group also saw teams of students from Campus Crusade for Christ, Students for Christ, the University of Texas and churches from across the nation aiding in recovery effort in New Orleans and Mississippi.
Such active involvement in holistic work among the young college generation is an emerging movement, one not seen decades ago.
"I'm 41," said Crowley. "My college experience was in the late 80s. There wasn't that awareness in that generation.
"It wasn't just about our small band. It was something much greater. God is doing something much greater. There's something happening there on the ground in New Orleans. God is doing a renewal, awaking churches and campus groups."
Students awakened to a deeper understanding of the situation and disaster when it struck over six months ago.
"[The single mom] felt a great responsibility to help us understand what happened," noted Crowley. "She didn't evacuate. She was in the house when the waters came up."
Crowley explained how she and others banded together and made their way to the Louisiana Superdome.
"She wanted us to understand. The media makes it seem like there was looting ... but the stories that weren't told were how a lot of people helped each other and how they banded together."
Embedded in a greater understanding of the nation's largest disaster, students opened their eyes to a "sense of responsibility, a bigger picture."
"I think it's going to embolden them as they integrate their faith with real life," he added, noting that their faith is turning more holistic.
The Minnesota team is being followed by a Navigators team from Dartmouth College this week.