Community Outreach in the Time of COVID-19

by   |   jbaun@bju.edu   |  

In a year of headlines and Twitter screaming, some things have gone quietly missing in 2020.

For the last four years at BJU, Go Greenville has been an initiative to get a high percentage of BJU students — especially new students — into the community for gospel outreach. With all of the excitement of starting in-person classes after being apart for so long and with all the additional information about this semester’s uniqueness, you may not have even thought about the lack of announcements and posts about Go Greenville.

Nonetheless, in this COVID-19 culture, the Center for Global Opportunities has decided that a coordinated effort to send hundreds of students in large groups into the community may not be the best way to love our neighbors and communicate the truth of the Gospel during this season.

An Introduction

For new students, this may be the first time you are hearing about the CGO. Many of you have no doubt walked by our office on the first floor of the Alumni Building and wondered, “Who are those people? And why do they seem to wave at everyone walking by their windows?” Let me introduce us: We are the Center for Global Opportunities. We exist to promote a vision for and participation in 21st-century gospel expansion. Or to put it simply, to help you to Reach Beyond Yourself.

A Shift in Focus

You may be asking, “With Go Greenville canceled, how will the CGO accomplish its mission?” I’m glad you asked! One of the ways we are encouraging students to reach beyond themselves is by serving the BJU family. We want to encourage students to think about how they can serve their fellow students.

See Also: Students Join Organizations, Build Relationships

We also know that many of you want to express your gratitude for the way the faculty and staff have gone over and above for the past six months. When asked why she appreciates the faculty at BJU, junior Brenna Lex responded, “They take the time to get to know you personally outside of class and regularly check up on you.” Plus, they faced the additional pressures of finishing last semester online. Amid the busyness, junior Erika Marayan recounts that her professor emailed her every week to check up on her mom who was working the front lines against COVID-19.

For these stories and many more, the Community Service Council has organized a Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day. On Sept. 12, you can tangibly add your appreciation for our faculty and staff here at BJU through dozens of projects. Society leaders will be organizing small groups to drive to faculty and staff houses to do anything from heavy yard work to washing windows and everything in between. Plan to take a study break for a few hours and show our faculty and staff your gratitude. Your society CSC representative will have more information on the projects and will be looking for volunteers.

A Strategic Opportunity

One last note, gospel outreach is in no way canceled. Does it look different? Sure! But with the inconvenience also comes more significant gospel opportunity. There are still outreaches that are happening in small numbers in the community following the general campus guidelines. I am also excited about the prospect of greater engagement across the student body in how local churches are trying to reach their communities. Now is not the time to shrink back and bemoan the inconvenience. It is the time to energetically search for strategic ways to engage the lost who have no anchor during this turbulent season. At the same time, let’s take advantage of easy opportunities like a Faculty/Staff Appreciation day to love and serve one another.

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