Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian University, 2006 Page: 50
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Students Ashley Berres and Robert Bishop are only two
of many who decided that giving money and praying for hurricane
victims was not enough. They helped to prove to others
around the country that ACU is "no ordinary university."
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, several students felt called
to go and serve in the places that needed it most.
"[Giving] money is such a great thing if you can do it, but
sometimes you just don't know where your money is going," said
Ashley Berres, sophomore psychology major from Lakeville,
Minn."Jesus didn't write checks and say'there you go, take care of
yourself,'Jesus went out there and took care of people:'
Berres is one of a group of five students who decided to go
into the New Orleans area to do whatever they could to help.
They served in Monroe, La., cleaning and playing with children
at the local civic center and organizing donated clothing at a local
Berres said that the group received about $800 in donations
before they left Sept. 1 and used the money to buy bottled water,
food and supplies that the Red Cross in Monroe needed.
Robert Bishop, senior Christian ministry major from Wichita
Falls, said he wanted to go to the New Orleans area but simply
didn't have time, so he decided to serve closer to Abilene. Bishop,
with three other students, drove to Dallas and connected with
Bishop's brother-in-law, Bret Wells, who was in charge of the
children's area at Reunion Arena. Bishop said they mainly worked
with kids younger than 12 to give their parents a chance to rest or
leave the arena, if they needed to.
"Mainly we just tried to keep them busy; tried to keep their
minds off of what is going on," Bishop said. "Kids are kind of the
best at leaving that world and going to their own little world ...
but every once in a while you could tell they were thinking about
it, you could see that look in their eyes.
"The atmosphere there was kind of one of shock,' I can't believe
this just happened to me,' but these people were also really filled
with hope, which kind of surprised me," he said."Even though we
were working with the Red Cross and not a church organization,
ACU students work with Herald of
Truth ministries to pack supplies
for Hurricane Katrina victims.
those kids were still wanting us to pray with them. It was just
amazing to see their hope and their faith in that situation."
Ihe experiences the students had outside Abilene changed
them, causing them to be more reflective on their own lives as
well as things that are going on closer to home they said.
"It's made me more willing to serve people in their everyday
circumstances because there's homeless people and hungry people
all of the time, and you don't really think about helping them
as much because they haven't been through what we call a crisis,
but really, most of them have," said Bishop.
Seeing the devastation and disruption in the people's lives
first-hand led students to consider the ever-present question of
'How can God do this?' on a deeper level. Berres said she believes
this questioning only shapes and strengthens one's faith because
you have to "think about who God is and why he does things
"If we believe in a God who can create a storm and create fury,
then we need to believe in a God who can heal from that storm,
heal from that fury," Berres said. "Just having faith and knowing
that God knows what he's doing, especially with those kids, that
God knows his plans for those kids, where he's going to take them
and how this experience is going to shape them."
Throughout the tragedy, students are showed their desire to
serve, which Bishop said is a defining factor of ACU.
"I think that is what ACU is and should be about, responding
to needs," he said."ACU is not just something that's set apart,
we're a part of the community, too, and I think it's important that
we reach out to our community, especially in a time of crisis, even
though these people are from New Orleans, Mississippi or Alabama,
they're a part of us, they're a part of the human community,
I'm just so glad to see that we're doing something about it as a
university, I think that says something about who we are, that we
will respond to that"
By: Brian Schmidt, adapted from the Optimist
Photo by Emerald McGowan
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Abilene Christian University. Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian University, 2006, yearbook, 2006; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth39882/m1/53/: accessed July 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Abilene Christian University Library.