Dr. Mike Smith, President - 903.589.7106 -

JC Students Minister Following Hurricane

JC Students Minister Following Hurricane


President of Jacksonville College

In response to the devastating effects of hurricane Harvey, over 100 Jacksonville College students and employees received training from the SBTC Disaster Relief Team on September 6. Following the training, groups of teams from the College began making trips to the Houston area to offer aid to the cleanup and restorations efforts. Randy Decker, director of the JC Music Program, took members of the choir to Conroe on the first trip. The team’s efforts included the removal of sheetrock, clearing walls of wet insulation, removal of appliances, cabinet demolition, and the application of mildewcide.

Two weeks later, a second group of choir students headed to the SBTC Disaster Relief Headquarters at Spring Baptist Church to receive their assignments. They worked on two different locations in Houston. One of the sites had not yet been touched by another team, and the JC group was responsible for cleaning out the house. They were faced with very hot and humid conditions and terrible smells and had to wear safety clothing and protective masks as they worked to remove wet carpet, carpet pads, and furniture. Students with allergies to the mildew helped sort food that was being sent to Spring Baptist Church for distribution.

The students sang in the streets in the residential areas where they were working, as well as before each meal at the church and for church services. On Sunday the choir members sang for both morning services at Northside Baptist Church in Conroe, where Wes Pratt serves as pastor. In the evening, they sang at the Tryon Annual Association Meeting at New Bethlehem Baptist Church. One of the students also shared her testimony.

After the second group of JC students returned, a group of men’s basketball students and Louis Truscott, assistant men’s basketball coach, volunteered to help in Houston. JC President Mike Smith also joined the group. Coach Louis is from Houston and was eager to help his community, but he was not prepared for the destruction he saw. He explained, “Seeing the damage as we were driving into the disaster area was unbelievable. It was like seeing a war zone.”

A fourth team is preparing to go to Port Arthur to offer continued aid in the massive recovery effort. Leading the team will be Academic Dean Marolyn Welch and her husband, Lee.

With so much devastation, it is hard to imagine that the little bit we contributed could make such an impact, but each group was welcomed by grateful homeowners who were desperate for help. Our part of the process might have been small, but we are glad to be a part of what the Lord is doing through the recovery efforts.

Randy Decker said, “Things get real in a hurry. There are no barriers when you are meeting people in desperate need. These homeowners look you in the eye. They want to thank you, they want to hug you, they want to cry with you, and they want to pray with you. It is intense and it is tremendously satisfying. This is a life changing ministry experience that everyone should have. It’s our calling to reach out and help.”

God has transformed the lives of those receiving aid, and he has most certainly transformed every life that has taken part in the recovery effort. Sometimes it is during the most difficult times that we can see God’s goodness and grace most clearly. This is one of those times.

Members of the Jacksonville College Choir prepare to travel to Houston to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.