"We must learn to not regard people in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
His name was Richard. Just being released from the hospital, he retreated home – a familiar place of peace and solitude, but that night he woke to his house under water. Richard, a victim of the October 31, 2013, Austin floods continued to live in his home sans electricity and water with a growing pain and wound to his psyche. That is until one of the first BOUNCE: Student Disaster Recovery teams came to help rebuild his home and his hope last July.
In the summer of 2014, David Scott, director of BOUNCE, followed the calling on his heart: mobilizing students to be on mission (6th grade to 12th grade). Scott launched the project with a model he knew worked. Groups around 200 students each served in West and Austin, Texas, as well as Moore, Oklahoma; each group did a myriad of construction work in the community, including rebuilding fences, framing, roofing and painting. Scott believes more than just a community will be changed on these missions trips though.
"These trips give us the opportunity to share Christ," says Scott, "but also we get to see what happens in the lives of students when they serve, return home and now open up to other missions and ministry opportunities."
This year, students will serve in West and Austin, Texas and Moore, Oklahoma, in addition to a few new cities, such as Dallas, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama. Two of these trips will be uniquely different.
Scott has teamed up with Ryan Jespersen, director of Urban Missions, to create Urban BOUNCE. "Urban BOUNCE is different only in the sense it is not disaster recovery, but I've learned disasters come in different forms. People can feel helpless about their living situations and if we can help improve quality of life for them, that's a pretty good deal," Scott believes.
Both Jespersen and Scott recognize the need to find different ways to serve because natural disasters cannot be predicted. Jespersen knows that disaster recovery work will always be done, but he wondered how he could begin to physically help urban areas.
"I came to the Texas Baptists in July, 2013." states Jespersen, "I felt the need to have a prepackaged urban missions experience and then David came along. A lifetime on mission starts with an experience. BOUNCE is an experience for a student. If we can facilitate that experience when they're in 7th grade, we can be the vessel God uses to clarify their callings…. We can show others that urban areas can also be mission fields too."
Urban BOUNCE will serve Dallas, June 8-13 by partnering with the People Helping People program and serve Waco, July 6-11 by partnering with the Waco Community Development Corporation. Both of these groups count heavily on volunteers for community rehab projects, but in many cases a large amount of their money is spent on labor. By bringing volunteers to these groups, it will help more of their funds go straight back to bettering their community projects.
These two men really strive to promote a lifestyle of living on mission. That is the true goal behind BOUNCE. Scott claims, "These trips are more than just disaster recovery and construction. This just gives us an excuse to minister to these kids and it's an opportunity to challenge students. It helps us shape our future generations to learn how they can be on missions in their everyday lives and beyond."
To find out more about both Urban BOUNCE and BOUNCE missions opportunities and to stay up to date with these groups, visit texasbaptists.org/bounce. Please feel free to contact either David Scott or Ryan Jespersen with any questions you may have. Follow the Bounce projects on Twitter or Instagram @BounceSDR .