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Students faithful in post-Katrina work

Its been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc along the Gulf coast. Many initial volunteers went back to their homes and never returned.

But several Austin Peay State University students, led by Jim Alexander of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), have continued their work along the Gulf. Since the groups first trip to the region during Fall Break 2005, Alexander and BCM students have returned four times to help residents rebuild their homes.
It's been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc along the Gulf coast. Many initial volunteers went back to their homes and never returned.

But several Austin Peay State University students, led by Jim Alexander of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), have continued their work along the Gulf. Since the group's first trip to the region during Fall Break 2005, Alexander and BCM students have returned four times to help residents rebuild their homes.

According to Alexander, during the recent spring break trip in March, he observed more than houses going up. He saw student lives “under construction.”

Toward the end of the week, Scarlett Spurgeon, a freshman from Cumberland Furnace, began to question whether she was making a difference. Sometimes it seemed there were too many workers for everyone to stay as busy as Spurgeon had imagined they would.

She told Alexander she found herself thinking, “I'm just standing here and not doing anything. I'm not feeling like I'm helping.”

Then she recalled the scripture, Mark 9:41, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you are a follower of Christ, he will not lose his reward.”

It was, as she calls it, a “light bulb moment.” She told Alexander she thought to herself, “Even if I hammer this one nail with the right motives, God knows it and will bless me for it.”

Spurgeon's experience was what Alexander hoped would happen for every BCM student who went to the Gulf coastthat they would take what they learned and apply it to other facets of their lives.

“I want students to have a worldview larger than Clarksville,” Alexander said. ”When students see destruction as they did in New Orleans, they ask themselves what they truly treasure. It's about character and what they give to others.”

During the March 2007 trip to New Orleans, the BCM partnered with the First Baptist Church of Clarksville to work with Habitat for Humanity and Baptist Crossroads in helping with construction work at Musicians' Village, a project of Harry Connick Jr. and Bradford Marsalis.

For more information, contact Alexander by telephone at (931) 647-6940. -- Tabitha Gilliland, coordinator of Student Affairs Publications