Faith & Service

In Times of Need: Disaster relief teams step up to serve in Oklahoma and Texas

October 31, 2019

Summer is a time of vacation and relaxation, but team members with LU Send Now, Liberty University’s disaster relief initiative, spent part of their school break serving those who needed it most.

LU Send Now deployed two teams during June and July — one to serve flood victims in Oklahoma and the other to help migrants on the U.S./Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas.

In May, Tulsa, Okla., suffered the worst flooding since 1986. Storms flooded the Arkansas River and stressed the levee system. The area suffered 85 tornadoes. LU Send Now partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to get Tulsa homes “contractor ready” by removing debris, nails, carpeting, flooring, and drywall.

Students also ministered to local homeowners and helped them reclaim valuable personal possessions. One Tulsa homeowner accepted Christ.

“Serving people in their hour of utmost need is a small reflection of what Christ did for us in our hour of need,” said team member Catherine Morales. “The physical work we did was nothing compared with the blessing of being a part of showing God’s love to others.”

“Seeing the hope and perseverance of the homeowners during their suffering really pushed us to see how much we need Christ as our solid foundation,” student Taylor Swartz added.

The Oklahoma team was later publicly recognized by President Donald Trump at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority annual conference in Washington, D.C.

A month later, LU Send Now sent eight students and five leaders to Brownsville, Texas, to work alongside a local church to serve migrants at the border.

Every day, migrants make the journey to various ports of entry along the southern border and await authorization for legal entry; some will then find their way to respite centers in America, like the one at Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville, where volunteers serve by meeting their physical needs. Iglesia Bautista provides lodging, meals, showers, fresh clothes, and hygiene products to immigrants who have claimed asylum in the U.S.

Liberty’s team managed the shower facility, helped asylum seekers contact their families, and coordinated travel plans to the immigrants’ final destinations. They also ministered to children by engaging them in art projects and teaching them English.

Student Carlo Trombley, who immigrated to the United States from Costa Rica as a teenager, said that many members of the team spoke Spanish, which allowed them to build better relationships with the people and share the Gospel.

“I don’t think I have ever seen God more present than in this week serving with the LU Send Now team,” Trombley said. “It was beautiful to see how passionate everyone was about sharing the Gospel and coming together in fellowship for the migrants.”

The immigrants they met had just completed processing at an overcrowded border detention center with limited resources. Most had not showered in days, they said, arriving in dirty clothes and weary from their long journey.

“When they would get out of the vans that brought them to the church, they would look tired, scared, nervous, and even mad,” Trombley said. “For them, stepping into this church would be one of the first times they experienced care and love from others in weeks. When it was their time to leave, men, women, and children would be filled with nothing but joy in their faces and hearts.”

Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser thanked Liberty President Jerry Falwell for “fully funding and empowering LU Send Now teams, which are dispatched to crisis-stricken places around
the world.”

“This year alone, our teams have served refugees on multiple continents,” he said. “The students and staff who go on these trips might have different political and philosophical views as it relates to the refugee and immigrant crisis, but they set those secondary issues aside to simply show up and serve people and to share
the Gospel.”

Students from the Bahamas join David Nasser on stage to pray for hurricane victims in the Bahamas on Wednesday September 4, 2019. (Photo by KJ Jugar)

In September, following the devastation from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, LU Send Now committed to sending a team to the country as soon as they receive clearance from the authorities. The majority of the LU Send Now team will be comprised of Liberty students from the Bahamas so that they can serve their homeland.

At the beginning of the Sept. 4 Convocation, just after the hurricane swept through the Caribbean, Nasser invited a group of students who call the Bahamas home to join him on the stage, and the crowd prayed for the group and their families. It was also announced that President Falwell has approved a $25,000 donation to Camp Bahamas ministries, a Christian youth camp in the Bahamas that orchestrates mission opportunities.

***UPDATE: An LU Send Now team was deployed to the Bahamas and worked alongside Samaritan’s Purse to aid hurricane victims. Watch a video from their trip below:

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