Explore Article Categories

Faith & Service

Growing and Giving Like Christ

By Melissa Skinner, October 18, 2016
Students worked to clean out homes in West Virginia.

Students worked to clean out homes in West Virginia.

Through the LU Send Now disaster relief program, about 1,200 students are ready and able to respond quickly to tragedy.

During the summer of 2016, students brought aid and encouragement to those who needed it most. In June, eight students and three staff members helped residents of Greenbrier County, W.Va., when the area was hit with tremendous flooding. Thousands were left without power. Many lost their homes. Liberty’s team helped with recovery efforts, cleaning homes and prepping them for demolition or repair.

Later in the summer, LU Send Now deployed two groups to Baton Rouge, La., to aid in flood relief efforts after what the Red Cross called the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy. In all, about 60 students and staff went to help.

The piles of furniture, trash, drywall, and refrigerators along the side of the road were familiar sights for senior Kayla Yaeckel, whose family lost their home to Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

“It is amazing to see how the Lord brought this full circle and allowed me to serve others who were going through what I experienced,” she said.

Yaeckel was moved by an 89-year-old man whose house was damaged by 4 feet of water. The team was able to take down drywall and remove a bathtub from his home.

“At the end of the job, we were able to present him with a Bible, and he told us he knew the Lord,” she said. “He told us that he has a place to stay with his daughter. He asked us if we would pray for those who do not have those things that he has.”

Fox News personality Sean Hannity met with students serving in Baton Rouge, La.

Fox News personality Sean Hannity featured the Liberty students on his program.  He introduced the disaster relief team, saying, “These kids are all from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. I am friends with President Falwell. I am going to tell him to give all of these kids an A-plus.”

According to Vincent Valeriano, LU Send Now coordinator, Liberty partners with humanitarian organizations on these trips — the top three partnerships are with Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, Baptist Global Response, and Samaritan’s Purse. Following the Baton Rouge trips, Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, thanked President Jerry Falwell for sending help, adding that the students were an encouragement to everyone there.

Valeriano said that while Liberty students are serving people affected by a tragedy, they are also serving the partner organization and learning from them.

“In the first year alone, we have already seen many of our students doing internships and applying for staff positions with the partner organizations they served alongside on some of our trips,” he said. “We love that LU Send Now is having a long-term impact on our students’ lives.”

Every student volunteer must undergo disaster relief training on campus and maintain a certain GPA to participate. All expenses are covered by the university.

Since launching last fall, LU Send Now teams have participated in flood relief efforts in Columbia, S.C., and during the aftermath of tornadoes in Mississippi. In the Spring 2016 semester, LU Send Now deployed its first local outreach team to Appomattox, Va., after a tornado. The first  international team traveled to Greece to aid in the Syrian refugee crisis, and students traveled to Flint, Mich., to assist with a contaminated water emergency. Additionally, a team went to Orange County, Texas, to help after damaging floods.

LU Send Now staff is currently looking into opportunities to help those affected by Italy’s earthquake in August as well as how to assist with the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria.

LU Serve

Students do yardwork at the Yoder Community Garden in Lynchburg.

Students do yardwork at the Yoder Community Garden in Lynchburg.

As the serving arm of the university, LU Serve offers students domestic, local, and international engagement opportunities.

This fall, students are participating in Christian Community Service at 366 nonprofit organizations and 326 churches. In addition, students are volunteering their time on Saturdays to interact with children, assist single mothers, help the elderly, cut grass, paint, or rake leaves. Every Friday, students offer coffee, water, snacks, and prayers to bus riders in Lynchburg through the Bus Stop Ministry. LU Serve also sends groups to work sites along the East Coast on the weekends.

Allison Battillo volunteers at the Lynchburg Humane Society.

Allison Battillo volunteers at the Lynchburg Humane Society.

Campuswide events, such as Global Focus Week and the Global Engagement Conference, show students how their fields of study intersect with international Christian service. A new Service Training Portal allows students to sign up for classes that will teach them how to effectively interact with people across various cultures before going overseas.

“Volunteering through LU Serve can enhance the value of students’ classroom experience, improve their résumés with practical experience, and provide significant opportunities for service and ministry,” said Lew Weider, executive director of LU Serve. “Upon graduation, these students will be more marketable than those who only have a degree, and they will be able to immediately use what they have learned in their careers and ministry.”

Get the e-magazine straight to your inbox!

It only takes a click to unsubscribe.