Megan Conley, Staff Writer
While most students were recuperating from finals, 13 North Greenville University students gave up a portion of their Christmas break to serve in the Cleveland area through mission work.
From December 11 to 17, the students joined with groups from Francis Marion University and Clemson University to work with local churches and church plants. The group was led by Kendall Danford and Monet Hayword, the Baptist Collegiate Ministry directors of Francis Marion and S.C. State. Participants served with Cleveland Hope, an outreach organization associated with the North American Mission Board. Partnering with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the groups served in lower income housing communities in the Cleveland area.
The students were divided into different teams that focused on a specific need in the community. The teams concentrated on cleaning out a church, serving with local churches, evangelism, caroling at nursing homes, painting and working with demographics. Many countries are represented in the area, including Russia, Ukraine and India.
A majority of the people groups represented in the area were Hispanics. One team was specifically filled with students who had some knowledge of the Spanish language. The students conducted research to discover what country the locals were from.
Several of the students assisted a church with its winter festival. The students assisted with the activities such as face painting, balloon animals, gingerbread house making and corn hole.
The groups spent time on the first day being trained in different ministries. Senior Nicolle Bremner was a part of the evangelism team that handed out flyers for different church plants and noticed the lack of faith in the locals.
“I definitely knew I would come in contact with people that were not spiritually healthy. Not many people knew the name of Jesus and what that meant to them,” said Bremner. “My cup had to be filled in order to encourage the people there. Overall, it is a very desperate area for Jesus.”
Students also ministered to residents in apartment complexes in the area. Participants noted that this area desperately needed to hear the Gospel.
“A lot of the people had criminal records. One lady had just gotten out of jail,” said junior, Hadden Finch. “[That environment] allowed us as students to be more real with them.”
While the students spent most of the trip serving in different areas, they also got the opportunity to worship with one of the local churches.
“My favorite part was going that Sunday morning and supporting the church plant because church is different in Cleveland from traditional worship. It is very casual and it was cool to see how they worship Jesus and spread the gospel in their community,” said Bremner.
Although the students were only there for a short amount of time, they could see the long term effects in the work being done.
“We connected people with the four local church plants,” said Finch. “It was [important] connecting them with a pastor that would show God’s love when we left.”
Bremner offered a word of encouragement to anyone who might be contemplating serving through mission work. “I would say it is one of the best experiences you will be able to have in your life," she said. "It’s what we are called to do. We’re not called to be comfortable; He has called us to a life of uncomfortableness. If you feel hesitant, it’s because He has called you.”