March 1, 2016 : By Drew Menard
Liberty University students spent their last day in Flint, Mich., working to complete what they set out to do — provide residents with clean water and the love of Jesus. The team returned to campus on Saturday.
Members of the LU Send Now team installed 200 Brita water filters on the kitchen faucets of residents in need and handed out 3,000 cases of bottled water.
Though the students return to classes on Monday, they will bring with them many lessons learned while serving the community in Flint.
Paige Landers, a sophomore accounting student, said that while being in the Flint community she has learned to serve others better.
“I came on this trip not knowing what to expect, but God has shown me that His plans are greater than mine, and I can make an impact wherever I go, if I do it in His name,” Landers said.
Rachel Bauer, a senior studying government, said that she was moved by how appreciative the residents were to receive something as simple as clean water.
“The resident’s eyes would light up when they would see someone coming to their house with water,” she said. “It is amazing how much encouragement someone can get from a simple bottle of water and a prayer.”
Every day this week, Liberty University students from the LU Send Now disaster relief program could be seen in the neighborhoods of Flint, Mich., going house to house with smiles on their faces, ready to deliver water, install water filters, and minister as they were needed.
Richard Spach, who has been a resident of Flint for 72 years, said that the water crisis created a panic in the community.
“Having the Liberty students here has meant a lot,” he said. “It has helped fill the need of volunteers to go out and to minister to the community. It shows (Flint residents) that others really care about what is going on.”
Spach said the residents he knows have been appreciative of the students coming to Flint to help with the situation.
|Daniel Trotter, a Liberty University junior, delivers water in Flint, Mich, during a trip with LU Send Now.|
Daniel Trotter, a junior studying project management, recounted going into a home on Thursday and immediately feeling a burden for the resident inside.
“He was a man who was missing one of his legs,” Trotter recalled. “He did not have much, but he was cheerful and welcoming from the moment he opened the door. I was able to not only give him four cases of water, but I was also able to pray for him and present him with a Bible.”
As Trotter has been able to visit different houses, he is reminded of how people are craving the peace and joy that only Christ can provide.
“At Liberty, we see the Gospel around us all of the time,” Trotter said. “But this week I have been able to see hurting people who are truly needing to hear the Good News, and I have been able to fill that need.”
At the beginning of the week, members of the LU Send Now team who traveled to Flint, Mich., did not know each other. But as the group of six Liberty University students and three leaders have continued to serve together, they have united and grown closer as a team through a common purpose — helping others.
Throughout the week, students have been lending a helping hand everywhere they go, passing out and delivering water bottles and installing water filters for those affected by a contaminated water supply in the city that has left thousands of residents without clean drinking water. Along the way, they have been able to share Christ’s love as they interact with the community.
Every evening, a different student has led a Bible study and shared a lesson they learned during the day. The team has continuously prayed together for the city, as well as for one another, asking the Lord to grant strength and endurance.
|A team of six Liberty students and three leaders have been working alongside disaster relief organizations in Flint, Mich. since Monday, through Liberty’s LU Send Now program.|
Mike Mullins, a Liberty campus pastor and a team leader on the trip, said these devotions and prayer times prepare students as they are going into homes to install the filters.
“Our inner life with Jesus is more important than what we do,” Mullins said. “As a spiritual Christian team, we need to prioritize our dependence on God individually and collectively to be anointed and equipped for these good works He has called us to do.”
Daniel Trotter, a junior studying project management, said that the team has grown closer because every night they unite under the Gospel.
“We have gone from not knowing each other to friends who trust one another,” Trotter said. “Everyone interacts with each other and with the community; we have discovered that we are true brothers and sisters and Christ.&rdq
Emmanuel Chery, a freshman biblical studies student, said he feels “privileged” to go on this trip during his first year of college.
“I decided to sign up for LU Send Now because it is a unique way to meet new people and share the Gospel with them,” he said. “I have made lifelong friends this week, and I am looking forward to seeing them around campus.”
While the Flint, Mich., area received about a foot of snow during the day on Tuesday, Liberty University students braved the frigid elements and handed out 2,000 cases of water bottles to those who needed it most.
A team of six Liberty students and three leaders have been working alongside disaster relief organizations in Flint since Monday, through Liberty’s LU Send Now program. A contaminated water supply in the city has left thousands of residents without clean drinking water. (See previous news report below.)
On Tuesday, students loaded cases of water bottles into cars at a roadside pickup location set up by the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
|Liberty University sophomore Johanna McCollum helps the LU Send Now team in Flint, Mich., load cases of bottled water in the cars of residents.|
Tim Patterson, a director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, was onsite Tuesday working alongside Liberty students. Patterson said that he is “thrilled” to have Liberty students on the ground in Flint.
“We love Liberty University and their stand for Christ,” he said. “We desperately need the students and their help here. We have the logistics and the organizational part down, but many times it comes down to the hard work of passing out the water.”
Johanna McCollum, a sophomore nursing student, said she decided to sign up for LU Send Now because she wanted the opportunity to reach out to different people.
“This trip means that I am able to be an encouragement to the Flint area,” she said. “We see the water situation on the news, but a lot of people here are excited to have someone from Virginia taking interest and lending a helping hand.”
Thousands of residents in Flint, Mich., are in need of one thing — clean drinking water. They have been exposed to toxic amounts of lead in the city’s water system. The crisis has garnered national media attention and President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in January. Liberty University’s LU Send Now disaster relief program has responded by deploying a team to join humanitarian organizations in installing Brita water filters in homes and in handing out bottled water.
The crisis began two years ago, when the government in Flint switched the water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Failure to treat the water properly has allowed the water to eat away at the iron pipes, causing lead to leak into the water supply. Additionally, the Flint River was not being treated, causing the water to erode and turn brown.
A team of six students and three leaders arrived in Flint on Sunday to work alongside the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBC) and the North American Mission Board. They began with a training session on Monday morning and were then dispatched into the community to help install water filters on the kitchen faucets of residents in need.
|Liberty University junior Josiah Bardy helps a Flint, Mich., resident install a water filter in their home as part of a disaster response trip through the LU Send Now program.|
The city government has provided the SBC with the names and addresses of over 200 residents in need of clean water who are either elderly or without transportation. Students work in teams of three to visit the homes and install the filters. They also offer residents free cases of bottled water.
Sally Jones, a lifelong Flint resident, said that it was shocking to find out that she had been drinking contaminated water for so long.
“I love the city of Flint,” she said. “This is a crisis right here in our own backyard, and this is the help we have needed for a long time.”
Jones added that she was surprised when the volunteers that showed up to her door were Liberty University students.
“This shows how big the students’ hearts are,” she said. “They do not know me at all, and this water crisis does not affect them, but they are here to help because they really care.”
Josiah Bardy, a junior business finance student, said that he was thankful to be selected to serve in Flint.
“I am from Michigan, and it is a blessing to come back and serve the state that I have grown up in,” he said, noting he grew up about 60 miles away from Flint. “They have a need for clean water, which is something we take for granted every single day. This first day has shown me that I have a lot to be thankful for in my own life.”
Liberty launched LU Send Now at
the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester as part of LU Send, the university’s central office for all Liberty student group travel, including local, domestic, and international trips. Through the program, students have provided relief aid in South Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin and during the aftermath of tornadoes in Mississippi last year. LU Send Now deployed its first international outreach team to Greece to assist with the refugee crisis Feb. 13-20. Additionally, LU Send Now deployed its first local outreach team to Appomattox, Va., (about 30 minutes from campus) to areas that were hit by a tornado last week.