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BC Students Serve on Mission in New York

As part of Bluefield College’s mission to be Christ-centered and in service to God and the community, eight BC students took advantage of their Spring Break in March to work with at-risk kids in an afterschool program in New York City.

Chris Shoemaker

June 8, 2012

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Student Jackie Boyer (center) works with kids in an afterschool program at Graffiti Church in New York as part of a BC Spring Break mission trip.

 

 

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Student Bev Conner (center) spends time with kids during the afterschool program at Graffiti Church in New York.

 

 

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Student Summer Eggers (left) puts a smile on a child’s face during BC's Spring Break mission trip to New York City.

 

 

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BC's Casey Palmer (left), Kelly Somers (second from left) and Bev Conner (right) with kids from the South Bronx.

 

 

Students Jackie Boyer, Bev Connor, Summer Eggers, Casey Palmer, Kristen Slade, Teddy Tamene, J.D. Taylor and Grant Thomas traveled with campus minister David Taylor and his wife, Lisa, to serve on a five-day mission with the Graffiti Church in the South Bronx.

 

Also joining the cause were prospective Bluefield College students Heather Bailey and Ben Taylor, along with BC staff member Kelly Somers. The purpose of the mission, David Taylor said, was threefold: to strengthen the work and ministry of the Graffiti Church, to expose students to a different culture, and to see what God is doing in other places.

 

“It’s important for us to develop a greater appreciation for people who are not like us in places that are not our home,” said Taylor, who was leading his third trip on mission to New York. “Our hope is that the students learned from this experience how to depend more on God for every need in their life.”

 

Established in the drug-controlled culture of Alphabet City in Manhattan, New York, in the early 1970s, Graffiti Church serves as a safe haven for at-risk children, youth and adults. Committed to living out the New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ, Graffiti prides itself on serving others and helping people find ways to serve.

 

In addition to its worship sessions and Bible studies, Graffiti provides the people within its community a clothing closet, afterschool program, soup kitchen, crisis counseling, advocacy, tutoring, mentoring, and job training. In 2005, Graffiti expanded its ministry into the South Bronx, and Graffiti 2 is where the Bluefield College students joined the cause this spring.

 

“This experience taught me that underprivileged children just need to be loved to be happy,” said Thomas, a sophomore from Chesapeake, Virginia. “They do not need all this nice, expensive stuff. What they truly need is someone to love them. What I really enjoyed the most was putting smiles on their faces. They really opened up to us and took us in like we were already best friends.”

 

The BC students worked with the inner-city children from third to 10th grade in Graffiti’s afterschool program, not only helping the kids with homework, but also mentoring and encouraging them with life’s challenges.

 

“I absolutely loved working with the children in the afterschool program,” said Slade, a teacher education major at BC. “I found it especially exciting to help the kids with their homework. However, my favorite part was probably just talking with the kids and getting to know them, their stories, and where they come from.”

 

One boy in particular, Slade said, touched her life significantly. She worked with him daily on his homework, but learned more from him she said while walking him from school to Graffiti and Graffiti to home. During that time, she said she learned about the heart of the child -- his family, his favorite things to do, and his favorite subjects in school.

 

“My experiences at Graffiti changed my life forever,” Slade said. “It was the place that I first felt God calling me to teach in an inner-city school. My heart is now so connected to the inner-city children. I could not imagine taking any other direction, except for teaching children in those cities.”

 

In addition to the afterschool program, the BC missionaries helped Graffiti staffers prepare for a move to a new ministry center. They “cleaned out a basement,” “hauled off junk,” and “shoveled up a trash pile,” as part of the ministry center transition.

 

“I have been changed forever by the trip to New York City,” said Slade. “I thank God very much for giving me the opportunity to go there and to pour out my heart, and in return to be so blessed by those children.”

 

 

 

 

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