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06-30-2006


Students on a Mission to Make a Difference

 


freshman Sarah Whitaker assists fellow student volunteer Tracy Smith, as they work to complete the siding outside a newly renovated home.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky.- All the homework has been turned in, the research papers have been written, final exams taken, and summer vacation has finally arrived. While many of the students at University of the Cumberlands are streaming to sunny beaches or have returned home to their families, several have remained behind.

These lingering students are volunteering their time, energy, and vacation to take part in the missions program. The summer volunteers are just a few of the 140 students who have served during their fall, winter and spring breaks last year. Although they minister in different capacities, each of the students works toward the same goal: to make a difference.

University of the Cumberlands' junior, Erin Slocam is volunteering her summer to work with Mountain Outreach. Slocam has put prior knowledge of construction to good use but admits that it has also been a learning experience.

"I wanted to use what I knew, and I have found that I didn't know much. Working with a small group has helped. We help each other out when some one is struggling," she said. "This experience has helped me to be more grateful and to be more helpful. It has also reminded me that God's love really is everywhere."

The ministry groups also get the chance to meet the families and see the difference that is being made in their lives. Freshman Sarah Whitaker finds that this aspect of the work keeps her motivated.

"By being able to talk to the families we see that we are helping them and we see the impact. It is hard to work when you don't see the fruit of your work," she said.

Missionary opportunities available to students include: Mountain Outreach, Appalachian Ministries, church ministries, international teams as wells as several summer camps. The tasks performed by the students range from repairing homes to conducting bible studies.

The missions group also has sent teams overseas. Several students are serving in Thailand, Poland, Brazil, Slovenia and Kazakhstan. The work overseas includes teaching English majors to improve their language skills in conversation, helping those interested to study the Bible and distributing food in impoverished areas.

Baptist Campus Ministries at University of the Cumberlands raises the majority of the money needed to fund the missions. Last year the group raised $10,000 to support the student missionaries serving here in Kentucky as well as those traveling overseas.

Missions are open to all interested students regardless of denomination or affiliation with campus ministries. For more information on how to get involved contact Campus Ministries Director Dean Whitaker. He may be reached by phone at 539-4343, or by email at dwhitake@ucumberlands.edu.

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is a private liberal arts college in its 117th year of operation. Cumberlands offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, as well as online and accelerated, nontraditional programs for adults.