When Maranatha reorganized its student ministry structure in the fall of 2008, Spurgeon Hall and Gould Hall were joined in a team effort nicknamed “The Flood.” Their designated area of ministry was community outreach in Watertown.
“When I first heard it,” Spurgeon president Aaron Madrid said, “I thought it was definitely intriguing.”
That three-year-old partnership has proven to be more than intriguing. It has helped forge a stronger bond between Maranatha and the residents of the city where it resides.
“I’ve definitely caught a vision for how important this is,” Gould president Elise Jones said. “This is not just about Maranatha’s name in the community. It’s about Christ’s name.”
The most regular evidence of outreach is Saturday morning door-to-door witnessing. Flood students team with members of Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown to invite residents to church and present the Gospel to them.
“I would say the visitation ministry is our focal point,” said Madrid, a junior from Conifer, Colo. “All of the things we do are important, but soulwinning is the one we place the most emphasis on.”
One of the most important things the Flood has done, in terms of community impact, is the Public Safety Officer Barbeque. Students set up tents near City Hall and spend two 12-hour shifts cooking and serving food to city police and fire department employees. Maranatha has received several letters of thanks from those public servants, but a more important victory was won in 2010 when a police officer and his entire family joined Calvary.
The Flood also coordinates a Rake-N-Run Day. Students walk through a neighborhood, volunteering to rake leaves for free, and leave Christian literature with the homeowners when the job is done.
There is also a Christmas toy drive. A decorated tree in Old Main’s lobby includes 50 ornaments with a child’s name and age on them. Names of needy children are obtained through area youth mentoring programs. Students, faculty, and staff buy Christmas presents for those children. Students then go to the children’s homes to deliver the presents and a plate of cookies, as well as to sing Christmas carols. One staff member said a mother told her in 2009 that, because of high utility bills, their children would have gone without presents if not for the kindness of the Maranatha family
“We are able to get a lot of people involved,” said Jones, a senior from Beaverton, Ore. “Not everybody is working in the same place at the same time. Somebody is making cookies, somebody is collecting money, somebody is making decorations, somebody is praying for us. There’s always something to do.”
There is certainly something to do in the spring when the Flood organizes its Springfest. The small-scale carnival features rides, games, face painting, food, prizes, and enough fun to keep a kid busy for an entire Saturday afternoon.
Jones said the 122 students in the Flood learn valuable spiritual lessons and develop a heart for their community.
“It’s about living for God right where you’re at,” Jones said. “The goal is to make ministry a natural part of your lifestyle, not just for big events.”
Madrid said the primary focus of Flood activities, however, is to introduce Christians as caring people to those whose previous contact with the Maranatha family may have been limited.
“If we’re not out in the community, then all we are to them is the crazy Baptists from that college down the street,” Madrid said. “We want them to see who we are, and we also want them to experience Christ’s love through us.”
- Spurgeon/Gould Flood: Watertown community service and witnessing
- Carey/Melford Stampede: State Street witnessing in Madison
- Leland/Hilsen Revolution: Juvenile detention center mentoring
- Judson/Weeks Ignited: Nursing home, disadvantaged youth tutoring, military personnel support
Armitage/Day Fusion: Youth mentoring, coffee shop Bible study