While most college students across the country spend their spring break relaxing, Lubbock Christian University has a tradition of encouraging its students to serve others during their break. This year LCU sent one team to Houston and another to Oklahoma City.
This is the fourth year for LCU students to serve inner city kids at Impact Church of Christ in Houston. LCU Senior Exercise and Sports Science major, April Jimenez, led a group of nineteen students this year.
The LCU students helped lead VBS activities and served food to members of Impact Church of Christ and the homeless in the area. However, Jimenez says their real job was to simply love on the children.
“Many of the children aren’t receiving love from home,” says Jimenez. “It’s so rewarding to love on them and to see the children smile because they know there is someone there who actually cares about them. By the time our team left, the kids didn’t want us to leave.”
Among the children was a little boy notorious for being stubborn. According to Jimenez, for the past three years volunteers struggled to work with this boy because he refused to listen. This year, LCU sophomore, Jerrod Eudy, made a big impression on this child. By the end of the week the boy was listening and behaving. When it was time for “little buddies” to give their “big buddies” a hug goodbye, the child ran across the room to embrace Eudy.
At the end of each day the LCU group would travel with the children on a bus to drop the kids off at their home. Jimenez mentions this was a very eye-opening time for her LCU peers who hadn’t seen true poverty in the states before.
This is the second year LCU sent a team to Oklahoma City to help fight human trafficking. The team of four worked with No Boundaries International (NBI), a nonprofit organization driven to stop modern day slavery, on constructing their new training, counseling, and occupational therapy center for sex trafficking victims. The LCU students assisted in everything from sorting clothing and hosting an outreach cookout, to praying with girls who are caught in the middle of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a global epidemic that is only growing,” says Oklahoma campaign leader and LCU Senior, Kimberley Silvia. “There are more people enslaved in the world today than in the 450 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The average age for a girl to begin working in the United States is between 12-13 years old. Our society needs to be educated on the subject to bring the problem into the light of public awareness so more steps are taken to help victims and prevent future victims.”
The team made an effort to educate themselves further in this issue by attending a closed Oklahoma Human Trafficking Task Force meeting hosted by the FBI, and by reviewing cases of human trafficking in Oklahoma.
After the campaign, Silvia says the most impactful moment involved a young girl who has been receiving help from NBI for several years. The day Silvia and her team arrived in OKC, NBI was informed that this young woman’s body was discovered naked in a recycling plant in Anaheim, California. While the LCU students were at NBI, this story received international coverage as reporters from sources such as the NY Daily Post and the London Times interviewed NBI workers. The LCU team helped put together a candle vigil for the young victim, and they consoled girls attending the vigil to mourn their friend who are currently in the same lifestyle.