Allie Cantrell, Staff Writer
“How would you deal with poverty if a homeless person was in front of you right now? What would you do to help them?” That was the question posed to some of JSU’s students over Spring Break.
On Saturday, March 17, nine Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) students, campus minister Grant Carroll and intern Matt Duraski, headed South to New Orleans on a mission trip where students learned about the reality of poverty and how to address issues that impoverished people face.
Many of the students responded to the above question with solutions such as giving money, supplies and material possessions to the person. However, over the course of the week, they learned that doing so only pacifies the continuing need that people in poverty face.
Giving material things to those in poverty demeans them and lowers their self-worth and how they see themselves.
The real solution is to treat those in poverty like human beings instead of a problem to be solved. People need to talk with them, engage in a meaningful conversation about what they need and what they want out of life and then point them in the direction they need to go.
One example used was the Chinese proverb “You give a poor man a fish, and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish, and you will give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
“It was a privilege to see how St. Roch Church and St. Roch Community Development Corporation has been used by God to bring restoration and renewal to the Eighth Ward of New Orleans,” Carroll said. “When people are reconciled with their God through Christ, their relationship with themselves, others and the rest of creation can be restored. Ben McLeish, director of St. Roch CDC says we should give our life toward the renewal and restoration of our communities: that means our labor, our influence, our Finances and our experience.”
Spring Break in New Orleans was an eye opening and humbling experience for these nine students and their mentors.
“I think the best part of the trip was getting to bond with other people in my campus ministry,” said Jay Dial, a member of RUF. “A lot of us only see each other once a week at most, and we don’t get a chance to interact with everybody all the time. I really enjoyed being able to get to know people and make some friends.”
The well-known Smashmouth song “Allstar” was played numerous times during the trip and became a running joke within the group of students. One lyric—“You’ll never know if you don’t go”— summed up students’ experiences
Many friendships were forged within the group and with the people they met in New Orleans.
“I enjoyed the trip because of the people that went with me,” said Katie Peyton, another RUF member. “Our group worked together well and had a lot of fun.”
“Working for and with St. Roch Community Church in New Orleans has changed the way I view helping others,” added Molly Cash. “Getting to be in a low-income community and seeing the work that can be done through people’s time, love and commitment has made me realize material and monetary gifts are not always the best way of helping others. St. Roch has changed the way I view my church and our outreach into the community around us. It’s helped me to be sure my help is not actually hurting others or enabling them to live a life dependent on others. It’s made me re-think my approach to nearly every aspect of outreach and missions work, and I believe that change is for the better!”
RUF meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Merrill Hall room 101. The group’s motto is “a rest stop for tired Christians and a safe place for skeptics.” RUF’s next trip will be May 8-13 to Summer Conference, or “SuCo,” in Panama City Beach.