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BCM returns to New Orleans with 36 BPC students

BCM at Habitat for Humanity's Musicians' Village
Brewton-Parker College’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries mission group pauses in front of the sign of the Musician’s Village before beginning a full day of yard work and construction with Habitat for Humanity. The village’s homes were some the group laid foundations for in their last visit to New Orleans, said BCM advisor and BPC campus minister Rev. Glenn Wallace. (Photos by BPC student Corinne Bird)

By Kelley M. Arnold

Interim Director of Marketing

MOUNT VERNON—Maybe there’s not an old adage that asks, “How do you move six tons of dirt?” but maybe there should be.


Daniel Giddens, left, and a Habitat for Humanity volunteer
BPC students Daniel Giddens, left, and “Joe”, a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, work together to cut lumber for the storage sheds they built in the Musicians’ Village.

Brewton-Parker College students participating in Baptist Collegiate Ministries’ recent winter mission trip to New Orleans would agree, and can even give the answer to the question:


“One shovelful at a time.”


They know this to be true because over the course of five days in mid-January, these 36 students tore down a fence that had been improperly installed, leveled the ground – here’s where the six tons of dirt come in – and then rebuilt the fence in the same location.


This is just one job they completed with Habitat for Humanity in the Musicians’ Village of the hard-hit Ninth Ward. And it’s one that made quite an impression on 21-year-old Kolby DePratter of Blackshear.


“The majority of the week was spent moving thousands of pounds of dirt; six truckloads to be exact,” said DePratter. “Although I am not a professional dirt mover, God allowed me, as well as the rest of the team, to show the citizens of New Orleans that we were there to serve – no matter how odd the task.”


“God allowed us opportunities to share Christ with the people of (this) neighborhood as well as the Habitat workers that assisted with the project,” he continued. “In the midst of shoveling dirt, leveling dirt and putting up a few sheds, we were able to minister to people who truly needed it. It is amazing to see what God can do with willing people. He does not need our expertise, abilities or our opinions. He simply asks for obedience.”    


Joey Tomazin, left, Emily Oliver, right
BPC students Joey Tomazin, left, and Emily Oliver, right, meet “Smokey Joe” (in wheelchair) and another homeowner in the Musicians Village. Oliver’s and Tomazin’s volunteer work on last year’s BCM mission trip to New Orleans laid a foundation – literally – on the homes these men live in today.

This is not the first time BPC students have worked in this community. A BPC BCM mission group was among the first volunteers to pour the foundations for the new homes over a year ago. The homes, now painted in bright primary hues, are also filled with families – many of them musicians and single moms and their children, reported Rev. Glenn Wallace, BPC campus minister and BCM advisor.


“It was really neat to look down the streets and see those houses, red, yellow, green and blue,” explained Wallace. “Some were the same houses that our group worked on during the spring last year (where) we had worked on the floor system and laid the foundations. This year, we worked in their yards and built storage sheds.”


The group worked with the Crossroads Ministry of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Earlier in the week, the group also helped pass out lanyards and ticket holders - and The Message - in front of the BCS National Championship Game through connections with a National Associational Missionary Board missionary in New Orleans and the BCS Championship Committee.


Josh Grant, left, and Eli Elliot
BPC students Josh Grant, left, and Eli Elliot work together on taking the nails out of these boards.

“Our students were supposed to be just handing out lanyards to all the people coming into the game, but as they did, they’d say, ‘God bless you,’ or yell out, ‘Hey, this isn’t the only thing that’s free,’ using it as an opportunity to minister to folks,” said Rev. Wallace.


The students also had their own brush with fame during the mission trip as well.


While taking a break on their first day on the Habitat site, the site director asked Rev. Wallace if they would like to participate in a Wall Raising Ceremony, where the homeowner helps raise the first wall of their future home alongside the volunteers. The home happened to be one sponsored by the NBA Hornets “Hoops for Homes”, and as the students were prepping the home for the ceremony, a “huge black Cadillac Escalade rolled up,” said Rev. Wallace.


One of the Hornets’ key players, Chris Paul, stepped out of the car and into the lives of the new homeowner, a mother and her young son. Their greeting, as well as the ceremony and the BPC students hammering nails alongside Paul and the new homeowner, was filmed by NBA TV and is scheduled to be aired during the NBA All-Star Game later in the season.


Framing a storage shed
BPC students frame a storage building in Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians’ Village.

“We got to see not just Chris Paul, NBA superstar, but Chris Paul, a guy who’s interested in helping others,” said Rev. Wallace. “In fact, he stayed longer than we did. It’s little things like that, that popped up. We later got to go to a Hornets game and hand out brochures. In the midst of doing ministry with Habitat, it was the little things that encouraged our students, like being told by God, ‘here’s a plus for being here’.”


Another “plus” was getting the chance to connect with the people whose lives they were able to touch through their first, and now, second trip to the Musicians’ Village.


“One moment that really stands out from the January mission trip is when I met a man named Smokey, a former jazz musician who is living in a house that my peers and I laid the foundation, floor systems and braces for on our previous trip,” said Joey Tomazin, 22. “I know that mission-work is not about me but I cannot deny that it humbles me and brings me great joy to see how God used others to be a blessing to the community we served. Also, God has used the blessings of others to bless me. I strongly encourage every student who desires to see change in their own lives and desires to change the lives of others to attend the trips provided to Brewton-Parker through the hard work of our campus minister, Glenn, and the Georgia Baptist Convention.”


Moving six tons of dirt
BPC students work as a team to move six tons of dirt.

BPC’s BCM is planning more trips later this semester. They will return to Nicaragua and distribute the Gospel to rural mountain areas and will travel to Brooklyn, New York and assist Park Slope Community Church with intercity ministry. To learn more about these trips or to participate as a BPC student, contact the Office of Admissions at 912-583-3265. BPC is the only accredited four-year Christian college in south Georgia.


The students who participated in this trip are listed in no particular order: Andrew Tucker, Joannie Morgan, Callie Bynum, Christi Castleberry, Lindsey Mann, Josh Grant, Ryan McWhorter, Daniel Giddens, Laura Bellisle, Edwin “Randy Joe” Griffin, Kolby DePratter, Sarah Carr, Rebecca Brady, Stephen Moye, Bethany New, Amy Beckum, Ryan Brazell, Stephen McLeod, Michel Baskin, Emily Oliver, Jake Giannini, Brooke Cheek, Joey Tomazin, Steven Dresen, Kathryn Williams, Paul Taylor, Adrian Bushart, Rhiannon Cox, Jamie Meador, Corinne Bird, Victoria Frazier, Courtney Payne, Eli Elliot, Sara Ring, Maribel Villegas and Jessica Groover. Greg Riner, a local pastor, also participated as a chaperone/mission leader.




Brewton-Parker College News & Information
Brewton-Parker College | Located on U.S. 280 at 201 David-Eliza Fountain Circle, P. O. Box 197, Mount Vernon, GA 30445
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The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.
Brewton-Parker College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Brewton-Parker College.
Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM