February 12, 2007
With little notice, 32 Oklahoma Baptist University students answered a call for help from McAlester, Okla.
“I received a phone call last Wednesday,” said Dale Griffin, OBU campus minister, who was contacted by Kenneth Sherrill, a member of the First Baptist Church of McAlester, on Jan. 31.
Sherrill asked for students who would be available on Saturday, Feb. 3, to help clean up homes in the McAlester area.
A devastating January ice storm impacted the community, leaving thousands of residents without power and water for days.
With two days to recruit students, Griffin said he expected 17 to show up Saturday morning. When he arrived on campus, eight were already at the meeting place.
“I went to my office to get a pad to write down names and to keep a count for ordering lunches,” Griffin said. “When I went back outside, there were 32 in the parking lot. I was so thrilled I was almost in tears.”
The group cleared yards of fallen tree branches. Many were surprised how much damage the storms caused.
“I spent some time in Florida cleaning up after hurricanes, and this reminded me a lot of what I saw down there,” said Matt Myers, a junior from Irving, Texas. “There were piles of trees everywhere. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Splitting up into teams, the OBU students cleaned yards of single parents, families and the elderly. One lady fixed lunch for the crew assigned to her yard.
“The people were great,” said Summer Perkins, a sophomore from Luling, Texas. “Some of the kids came out, and we played games with them. There was a great need, along with cleaning their yards. They needed encouragement after going through the ice storm.”
Stephen Guarneros, a chaplain with the Texas Baptist Men’s victim relief ministry, appreciated the help from the OBU students. He also was amazed at how many came to McAlester for the clean-up project.
“We were able to accomplish more in one afternoon than what we would normally do in a week,” said Guarneros. “They made a major difference. What they did will have a lasting impact on the community.”
“The students met a felt need,” said Griffin. “This is part of service evangelism, earning the right to speak by our actions.”