AUSTIN—Chris Rubs was cleaning his garage on the night of October 31, 2013, unaware that outside his door, torrential rains had caused the neighborhood creek to overflow.
He suddenly heard screams coming from outside and opened the door to find an unnerving sight: floodwaters were engulfing his neighborhood and neighbors were chasing after a little girl who had been swept off her feet by the rapids. Together, with other men and the help of a chain-link fence that snagged the girl's clothing, Rubs helped bring her home to safe arms.
Once he waded through water back to his own home, Rubs crawled through a window to get inside, where he found the water had risen to four feet.
"The water was to my chest," he said. "I didn't have a chance to save anything."
Rubs is just one of 19 Austin homeowners who received assistance from BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery volunteers this spring break while on the road to recovery from the devastating 2013 flood.
From nine different churches, 162 youth and youth leaders put on their BOUNCE tool belts and bandanas and built fences, mixed concrete, hauled lumber and cleaned up yards.
Rubs and his neighbors have been recovering for nearly 16 months, and he said the students' labor in rebuilding his fence and cleaning up his yard was a huge help in moving forward.
Down the road, students from Hunter's Glen Baptist Church in Plano were building a fence for a woman who had lived in her home for 19 years.
The team's student chaplain, Hallie Storrie, and hydration specialist, Alex Kingsley, said spending their spring break building fences and pouring concrete was a humbling experience.
"Jesus was a servant and we strive to be like him," Storrie said. "In whatever way we can, we try to serve others and show them the love that God has for us."
Kingsley said Mark 10:45 stood out to him throughout the week as a reminder to work hard and be servant-hearted.
"We're not supposed to always be the demanding people," he said. "Sometimes we're supposed to do the hard work for the least of these," just like Jesus did.
Students put in two full days of labor and concluded their evenings with a time of worship and youth group reflections. Manchaca Baptist Church in Manchaca hosted the youth, providing space for them to eat, worship, sleep on air mattresses and use shower trailers.
This was the first-ever spring break BOUNCE project. Encouraged by the response, David Scott, Texas Baptists' director of BOUNCE, said, "These students could have done plenty of other things during their spring break, but they chose to come and serve here in Austin.
"I am grateful for student ministries that have a missional element and encourage their students to serve Christ through mission opportunities. No doubt these students have given the people of South Austin hope."
BOUNCE also offers a variety of mission trips throughout the summer which will give students the opportunity to assist communities in their efforts to bounce back from devastation after a disaster has struck.This summer's trips include Mineral Wells, Texas; Moore, Oklahoma; Dallas, Texas; and more. To see a listing of opportunities for your student ministry to take part in, visit texasbaptists.org/bounce.