Armed with hammers, power tools, paint and enthusiasm, 100 junior high and high school students flooded into South Dallas June 8-13 to help repair homes through Urban BOUNCE. The Texas Baptists Student Disaster Recovery program, which began in 2014, started a new track this year with an emphasis on urban areas in need of rehabilitation.
The students formed nine teams and worked on seven homes, identified and secured through a partnership with by People Helping People through the City of Dallas.
"Our partnership with People Helping People is a great asset," said David Scott, director of BOUNCE. "They help identify qualified homeowners for the projects and secure funding for materials, we then provide the labor which helps the rehabilitation project go so much further."
For Darby Cavanaugh, a junior from Cross Plains Community Church in Hobbs, New Mexico, participating in BOUNCE was an opportunity to serve in a hands-on way. Not only did she learn how to roof a house during the week, but more importantly, she learned what it means to humbly serve without recognition.
"This has been a good way to help give back to the community," Cavanaugh said. "It's a time to serve and come to get closer to God through my work. And just to share Jesus."
While the teams spent the majority of the day repairing houses, the entire group also joined together in the evenings for a time of worship and Bible study at Duncanville's First Baptist Church, which served as the host for the week. Ryan Jespersen, director of Urban Missions, served as the speaker for Week 1.
"During Urban BOUNCE this week, I saw in students being the Church, not just the future of the church, but the Church itself living out our call in the world," Jespersen said. "We encouraged the students that their work was glorifying Christ and helped His Church grow in the community."
"We want to challenge the students to give a summer or semester of their time to missions before they graduate college," Scott said. "One of the most important messages we want to communicate through this week is missions as a lifestyle."
"This week has been wonderful," McWilliams said. "Our group is smaller but has bonded already and we have enjoyed spending time together, serving the Lord while, also serving the homeowner. It is great as a student pastor to work with my students and see them out into practice the things we teach them about service."
Three adults from FBC Lufkin already have children who have graduated from high school, but continue to sponsor trips like this because they believe in the mission and ministry of BOUNCE.
Stephen Conway is one such sponsor who served on his eleventh mission trip with FBC Lufkin youth and took a week of vacation time to come serve alongside the students.
"This type of ministry teaches our students to put service first," Conway said. "The students will amaze you with what they can do. It's good for them to learn new skills as well. Some of the students have never used a hammer. This week helps train students in many ways to be better student leaders."
BOUNCE trips are planned this summer in Waco, Mineral Wells, Moore, OK, and a newly added trip to San Marcos/Wimberley following the recent flooding. For more information, visit texasbaptists.org/bounce.