ETBU Helps Youths In Alaska To Be Better Leadersby Mike Midkiff
MARSHALL, Texas (7/17/12)- Five East Texas Baptist University students spent 12 days in Alaska during June, not to get away from the Texas summer heat, but to provide leadership training for high school age students who desire to be better Christian leaders in their local churches. The students weathered through 50 degree days as they served with the Alaska Baptist Convention as it held its annual T3 (Training Teens Today) Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, at Grandview Baptist Church.
"The ETBU students provided leadership training for Alaskan youth in the ninth through twelfth grades,” said ETBU Interim Director of the Great Commission Center Dr. Emily Prevost, who accompanied the ETBU group on the trip. "Many of the local youth were from very small churches and because churches are small, older youth in the Alaskan churches need to be able to lead Bible studies, lead worship, operate sound equipment, plan events, and mentor younger youth.”
The training time in Alaska consisted of intensive Bible study and skill tracks to prepare the youth for leadership opportunities. The skill tracks included video, technical applications, worship leadership, missions, ministry, and recreation. Several of the ETBU students, also led group studies in evangelism or sign-language.
Jimmy Stewart, Director of Evangelism and Church Development for the Alaska Baptist Convention for the past 11 years, likes what the college students bring to the conference in their teaching roles. "The energy and enthusiasm the college students bring, relate more to the youth than us older leaders,” said Stewart. "The ETBU students not only trained but mentored our students and took a deep interest in their lives. By using Christian college students dedicated to serving and following Christ, it modeled to our students the next stage in life.”
The trip was a new experience for ETBU sophomore music major Kristine Mailloux as this was her first time in Alaska. "I went on this trip because I was sitting in our Missions Chapel at ETBU and as I listened to the students talk about their experiences and how much going these service trips changed them, I felt called to go and do something for someone else,” said the Hemphill native. The cool temperatures of Alaska and daylight at 3:00 a.m. each day was an adjustment for her as well.
"I definitely did not expect to see the kind of poverty that I did. I saw children wearing the same clothes each day and kids asking us for water and food instead of wanting to play with us,” said Mailloux. "I also saw many heartwarming actions as young teens reached out to help these kids. I saw compassion on their faces and love in their hearts. I saw Christ-like leadership qualities in those we were working with.”
"The students from ETBU were very dedicated and contributed tremendously to our program,” said Stewart. "Many of the college students found it hard to leave Alaska and the relationships they had formed.”
Students from ETBU have been assisting with T3 since the summer of 2006. The hope is that T3 participants will attend all four years of high school.
ETBU had over 125 students and faculty serving this summer in 6 states and 13 countries in places like California, Colorado, Romania, and the Middle East. The student team that went to Alaska was Mailloux of Hemphill, Kenny Adcock of Joshua, Lerinda Baham of Bethany, La,, Dylan Mathis of Kaufman, and Daniel Tice of El Campo.