Texas Baptist university students paid tribute to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. by spending the national holiday that honors him in community service.
In Marshall, about 100 volunteers from East Texas Baptist University—students, joined by faculty and staff—served in 12 locations.
While several teams picked up trash along roadsides, one large group worked at a Habitat for Humanity home construction site and another group volunteered at DaySpring Ranch, a therapeutic equestrian center.
Gavin McAdam, president of the ETBU Student Government Association, cited two motivations for serving at the Habitat for Humanity site.
“My first reason was to give back to the community as a personal endeavor and, second, to encourage other student organizations on campus to be involved, McAdam said.
“It is crucial to me that we take every opportunity Christ gives us to serve so that we can live out our missional obligations to our fellow brothers and sisters who may need our help. In a small act of giving of oneself, a bigger impact that we may never understand is made.”
Some members of the Lady Tiger basketball team cleared horse stalls and oiled saddles at DaySpring Ranch, while their teammates cleared fallen limbs from wooded trails used during therapy sessions.
“I had been looking for something the team could do, and I think it is really important not only for the team but all students in general to give back to the community whenever they can,” Lady Tiger Head Coach Edsel Hamilton said. “One aspect of the ministry of DaySpring is that they do a lot equine therapy with veterans who come back from wars. It is very good for us to do anything that benefits veterans who serve our country.”
ETBU encourages students, faculty and staff to volunteer as part of the school’s commitment to fostering servant leadership, ETBU Great Commission Center Director Lisa Seeley said.
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“ETBU is a light on the hill in Marshall. That light is the life of Christ lived out by our students, faculty and staff in our community through spreading the gospel in word and deed,” Seeley said.
“My hope is that those who served became more aware of the needs of our community and also felt empowered to make a difference. Sometimes, the needs around us seem too overwhelming. My prayer is that by serving, the students, faculty and staff who participated saw that they can impact our community for Christ.”
Student groups from Dallas Baptist worked at two organizations in neighboring Tarrant County—Beautiful Feet Ministries in Fort Worth and Mission Arlington.
“We were blessed to be able to serve alongside these organizations on a regular basis,” said Desi Henk, director of the university’s William B. Dean Service-Learning Program.
“At DBU, we stress to our students the concept of servant leadership, and the life and ministry of Martin Luther King Jr. is a wonderful example for our students to follow.”
Jonathan Kaspar, a DBU student from Houston, noted he served alongside students “who had such a joyful attitude and went above and beyond what was asked of them.”
His co-workers exemplified the biblical admonition in Philippians 2:3 to “value others above yourselves,” he noted.
“They chose to be the hands and feet of Christ and look after the needs of others, regardless of the circumstances. The last day before school starts was spent well serving those less fortunate and being a light for them in this world of darkness,” Kaspar said.
DBU students not only had the opportunity to serve the communities around them, but also were able to contemplate King’s life and legacy as they served.
“Serving today was meaningful both because of the impact we were able to make on our community, and because of the opportunity we had to honor the great legacy of service to others that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. established during his lifetime,” said Layne Watson, DBU student from San Antonio.
Based on reporting by Mike Midkiff at ETBU and Courtney Hackett at DBU.