Thundering Herd Recovery Team puts faith into action

By Kerry Bart

Marshall University students have been on the road already in 2019. Last year, Marshall’s United Methodist Student group, under the direction of the Rev. Benjamin Wells, formed the “Thundering Herd Recovery Team,” with the goal of organizing work mission trips for Marshall students. An astounding 15 students and adults took UMCOR’s “Early Response Team” disaster recovery training in the fall, and they are already putting their skills to use.

Rev. Benjamin Wells cuts away a damaged wall section.

The first week of January, Rev. Wells and and UMS alumnus Emily Chittenden, along with 11 Marshall students, packed up tools and gear in WVUMC’s Disaster Response trailer and went off to Grace UMC in Wilmington, NC, where they worked on four houses damaged by Hurricane Florence in September 2018. The team pulled flood-damaged insulation – 80 bags of it! – from under a house. They hung drywall and they “mudded” ceilings where other workers had stripped walls and ceilings bare. They shared stories of hope and faith with homeowners.

Marshall University students Heather Barker and Jennifer Gerst replace a ceiling panel in a storm-damaged home.

It was a first work trip for three students, and it was a tenth work trip for at least one student. In the 2017-2018 school year alone, the Thundering Herd Recovery Team went on four work trips.

Students and leaders alike reported that this January trip was full of hiccups and hurdles, but that every hurdle and hiccup was met with faith and fortitude, and God worked wonders in overcoming challenges.

The THRT looks forward to returning to Wilmington over their Spring Break in March, and they will possibly plan another work trip somewhere in May as well.

How do they do it? Students are motivated through the campus ministry (which is supported by Annual Conference dollars as well as direct donations by congregations and individuals), and students also contributed $100 each to boot. Marshall University’s United Methodist Students are living into their mission: “Loving God, Loving Others, Loving a World in Need.” And disciples of Jesus Christ are being made, for the transformation of the world.

You can contact campus minister Benjamin Wells at UMS would be happy to speak to your congregation or help out with a meal or other church project.

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