Georgia DR interns spend summer serving in Houston

August 6th, 2018 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

HOUSTON—A year ago, neither Kevin Cervantes nor Davey Arrowood, both Georgia college juniors, expected to be spending the summer in steamy Houston, but Hurricane Harvey happened. The two students, each with prior construction experience, spent most of June and July as Southern Baptists of Texas Convention disaster relief (SBTC DR) volunteer interns with separate Houston-area churches involved in rebuild efforts.

Arrowood and Cervantes told the TEXAN that while Houston was at first challenging to drive in, they found joy in helping people in dire conditions where small things can make big differences.

After Georgia Baptist DR director Stuart Lang phoned Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, to offer the interns, Kenneth Priest, SBTC director of convention strategies, secured their placements.

“The SBTC model is church-based and not convention-centered. We wanted them connected in local churches to engage in ministry relief,” Priest said, confirming that the SBTC provided travel expenses for the interns, who also received assistance from Georgia DR and their host churches.

Cervantes, an accounting major from Greensboro, Ga., learned about the DR internship opportunity from his Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) campus minister at the University of Georgia.

Cervantes found his assignment a natural fit. A veteran of DR trips to New Orleans in 2016 and Orange, Texas, during spring break 2018, he also had worked for a remodeling contractor as a teenager.

Cervantes, who volunteered with Houston Northwest Church, stayed with a host family from the church.

He found the work varied and rewarding.

“It’s been different each week,” Cervantes said. “One week, I’m out in the field doing DR work or helping supervise a crew … other weeks, I worked in the office with the missions team.” Cervantes made phone calls to check on Harvey victims and undertook many trips to Home Depot for supplies. He also assisted with church-sponsored programs such as VBS, a movie night and a healthy eating event.

Calling the summer experience a “leap of faith,” Cervantes said he felt God telling him, “You’ve got to do this.”

He is glad he did.

“I have enjoyed the togetherness of people in church and the community,” Cervantes said, suggesting it seems “simpler for people to come together if everyone is hurting.”

A memorable experience occurred when Cervantes and four other men assisted an elderly woman by repairing a fence.

“Something that simple meant so much to her,” Cervantes recalled. “She was an older woman with hearing troubles, partially blind with two dogs. She was so thankful to us for a job that took us the better part of one morning. It was cool.”

Like Cervantes, Arrowood learned about the DR opportunity from his BCM campus minister. The political science major, who lives north of Dahlonega, Ga., where he attends the University of North Georgia, spent two years after high school working fulltime with his father, a licensed electrician, to save money for college.

Paired with Bayou City Fellowship at its Cypress location at the former Kwik Kopy corporate headquarters, Arrowood stayed in the church’s converted hotel on the property.

Arrowood spent the bulk of his time on campus working in the warehouse for BCF’s relief and recovery ministry, Bayou City Relief (BCR), which focuses on the impoverished Kashmere Gardens area and Houston’s upper Fifth Ward.  

Arrowood, who is considering attending seminary after college, made deliveries, fetched supplies, did administrative work, interacted with DR teams and homeowners, and even supervised projects.

When the TEXAN caught up with him, he was about to make an appliance delivery to a home. The church partners with World Vision to obtain appliances, drywall and other supplies for the rebuild.

NAMB is also partnering with Bayou City, sending workers to help manage the thousands of volunteers coming to help. Arrowood worked closely with SEND Relief’s Gerald and Peggy Colbert, also of Georgia, who will be in Houston until the end of the year and are expected to move from managing the BCR warehouse to working with volunteers, said Colleen Henneke, BCR director.

Calling Arrowood “an answered prayer,” Henneke added, “Davey walked in with an incredible spirit,” noting that much of Arrowood’s work came in the warehouse with no air conditioning as outside temperatures soared to triple digits.

Like Cervantes, Arrowood witnessed God’s hand in the little things, such as delivering a gas range to homeowner Toni. “It was something very simple, a few hours out of our day. When we pulled up, the excitement on her face…she was literally jumping up and down and screaming. It meant everything to her.”

This summer marked Arrowood’s first long term mission trip. Although being away from family and friends was “difficult at times,” he learned that “God will supply my every need.”

While the heat has been oppressive and the “mosquitoes bigger than I am,” Arrowood would not trade the experience. Nor would Bayou City. Henneke said Arrowood is welcome to return anytime.

Interns like Arrowood and Cervantes are the “future workers and leaders in the SBC,” Stice said, expressing gratitude for their service.