“Reach beyond yourself” is a phrase familiar to most BJU students as the slogan of the Center for Global Opportunities. But for some students, the idea is less a slogan and more a lifestyle of personal commitment to outreach—a commitment that students agree benefits more than only those being reached.
For Paige Elmer, a senior elementary education major, reaching out to the residents in the Laurel Baye Healthcare of Greenville nursing home is a mutual investment.
Elmer goes with a small group of other women students to the nursing home every other Saturday. They paint the nails of the ladies there and chat. The chats are to encourage and witness to the residents of the facility. But Elmer, who has been part of the outreach since her freshman year, finds the visits refreshing herself because of the sweet and encouraging spirit of the residents.
“There are some days that I don’t want to go because I’m busy or I have a lot of homework and I’m stressed out, but those are the days I find that I need it the most,” Elmer said.
Miles Scarboro, a junior biblical counseling major, also attends an outreach to an assisted living facility. What started as an outreach, he said, became a time of mutual fellowship. “One thing that I didn’t see coming [was] how much they would care about us,” Scarboro said of the residents in Brookdale’s assisted living facility. “A lot of times, I feel like we’re getting more out of it than they are.”
Scarboro holds services for the nursing home residents and hopes to take them to BJU’s Living Gallery this semester. He described the outreach as a meaningful opportunity to learn about ministry.
“Ministry isn’t necessarily about us doing anything—God works through us, and then He encourages us through all of our work,” Scarboro said.
Daraven Perez, a sophomore health sciences major, has been watching God work through him in the urban evangelism outreach. Perez joined the outreach after having been saved for only two years. He said urban evangelism has taught him that God can work through anyone, regardless of how experienced they are, because all people need is someone to show them simple compassion.
“You get to see the real-life interactions of people going through difficult circumstances and how your hope in Christ can give them hope as well,” Perez said.
The weekly outreach means a lot to Perez, who has grown in faith in God’s guidance through the ministry. God has also been stretching the faith of Cami Acree, a junior biblical counseling major, through her ministry at the Greenville County Juvenile Detention Center.
The weekly Bible study Acree holds there with other BJU students provides not just an opportunity to build relationships with kids in need but also an opportunity to watch God answer prayer.
“So often, we don’t see answers to prayer because we don’t ask, and in the detention center, it’s so clear that God’s the only one who can answer those prayers,” Acree said.
According to Acree, prayer is what supports the group that visits the detention center. Her group meets during the week to pray for the kids they visit as well as to swap stories of the lives they have seen changing over time.
To Abby Leaman, a junior communication disorders major, there is nothing better than seeing a kid put his faith in Christ. Leaman is the student coordinator between the CGO and the deaf and blind ministry of Grace Baptist Church in Landrum.
Her group meets from 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays with kids from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. Leaman said the opportunity to learn communication skills is incredible, but the opportunity to do something with lasting impact is even better.
“At college you’re always focused on yourself, but [the outreach is] the four hours of the week that I’m fully focused on other people,” Leaman said. “What we’re doing once a week, this is what really counts.”