On a Saturday in late April, vans filtered out from PCC’s campus, each one carrying students eager to serve the community in a special way. As one of the last of the 2020–2021 Student Body initiatives, Serve Pensacola was an embodiment of the selfless themes and goals students have been discussing, encouraging, and growing toward.
“Serve Pensacola is an amazing opportunity to have the chance to work alongside others in our community, trying to make it a cleaner, better place,” said Mia Griffin (Jr. NV), Student Body pianist. “By serving with others in our community, we can show them God’s love as well.”
Over the course of the school year, the Student Body officers have been pointed and purposed toward their theme—growing together by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:14–16). Through each Student Body meeting, students have heard testimonies from each of the officers as well as their classmates about their personal experiences and how God has provided, oftentimes, through other people.
Earlier this spring, Student Body president Jordan Griffin (Sr., NV) shared with the student body about this year’s Missions Project—Wounded Spirits Ministries, a group that offers support to those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Jordan first met Doug Carragher and Stephanie Wesco of Wounded Spirits in the Commons Display Room, where Christian schools and organizations come to recruit students throughout the school year.
“I felt led to stop by. I heard about [Doug’s] ministry and what he does and got to talk to Mrs. Wesco. Hearing her story and what she went through was so real to me,” Jordan recalled.
The funds raised for Wounded Spirits will allow the ministry to accomplish three goals: to create a professional video that offers hope to military with PTSD; to create a professional video to show college students struggling with PTSD, depression, or anxiety that God has a path for them through their suffering; and to hire a fundraising company to help gather funds for a retreat center property where those with PTSD can find refuge for intensive recovery. “This project brings it home that people in the church are broken too!” said Jordan. “Our faith is not to make others look bad but to give them someone to turn their broken selves to.”
“We have had many students come to us and tell us how encouraged they’ve been from hearing the struggles of others and seeing how they grew in Christ through their trials,” said Chris Montgomery (Sr., TN), Student Body chaplain. “And with the Wounded Spirits Ministries project, we’ve been able to see our own students helped through the ministry they are supporting. Overall, I’d say God has really been using this theme to help heal and direct the lives of students toward growth in Christ and unity as His body.”
Donations toward the Missions Project were taken up a little differently this year. The annual Missions Run, an energetic event usually packed with participants, was not possible because of COVID-19 distancing protocols, but students were still able to have fun and encourage each other through their donations! Funds were sent in via text through Text-to-Give, a Round Up (to the next dollar) campaign at PCC’s Campus Store, a Flower Fundraiser that allowed students to send a flower anonymously to another student for $2 and let the recipient discover who sent it for $1, and by ordering Grow Together T-shirts. This year, two T-shirts were offered—a green option ($15) and a white option ($12) that students could tie-dye for an additional $3.
Altogether, students were able to raise nearly $35,000 for the Missions Project, not including an offering Campus Church took up for the ministry. In a thank-you video presented in a Student Body meeting, Doug Carragher said, “I just wanted to take a minute or two to personally thank Pastor Redlin and the folks at Campus Church for being so awesome to us and taking a last-minute offering for us and [for being] willing to reach those with PTSD and hurting hearts. And I wanted to thank Pensacola Christian College, Brother Jordan, and the whole Student Body council for making a difference. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the church of Philippi: ‘I thank my God upon every remembrance of you’ (Phil. 1:3). Folks, I want you to know that I’m thanking God for each and every one of you. Thank you.”
Beyond serving others through the Missions Project, the student body took their outreach a step further through Serve Pensacola. Decked out in their green, white, and tie-dyed Grow Together T-shirts, students went out and served the community. Groups who volunteered for the indoor projects served at local churches and community centers such as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. Planned outdoor projects (local parks and community restoration) had to be postponed due to inclement weather, but the serving opportunities will be offered again to students over the summer.
Freshman Kalen Hodge (VA) joined a group at Scenic Bay Baptist Church. There, they assisted with vacuuming, dusting, and organizing alongside the church family. “The overall attitude was very upbeat and cheerful. Everyone was happy to be able to help out a local church,” she said. “I hope these service opportunities never stop because I love being able to get involved and have an influence in these small ways.”
“Each one of us just jumped right in with a good attitude and a servant’s heart!” said Leevi Stumpf (Fr., TN), who joined a group at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore center. “By going out and helping the community, it’s a win-win that I think helps us all ‘grow together.’ In spite of the differences we may all have, it’s nice for us students to see a positive impact in the community. Seeing these Student Body initiatives and the creativity included in them is inspiring!”
“It has been neat seeing the students take on challenges of reaching out and speaking the truth in love,” said Stormy Helms (Sr., AR), Student Body chorister. “I can feel a new sense of unity throughout the student body as we grow together and navigate through confusing times.”
While this year’s Student Body initiatives have concluded, the serving spirit of the student body doesn’t have to. With summer ministry opportunities around the corner, many will go out into their own communities and churches or serve in summer camps in the weeks to come. “If there is an opportunity, take it. There is so much fun to be had in life as a Christian. We have freedom in Christ!” said Jordan Griffin. “What does that have to do with events? Enjoy them, learn from them, take what God teaches you, and use it later on.”