Mount Vernon Nazarene University: Life Changing

Lakeland, Florida Spring Break Ministry Trip

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Twenty-one students and MVNU faculty member Dr. Bruce Oldham journeyed to sunny Lakeland, Florida to serve in conjunction with Lighthouse Ministries and Highland Park Church of the Nazarene. During their eight days on site, four projects were completed under the direction of Steve Bellamy, lay leader at the Highland Park church:

  • Painting the interior of the Lighthouse Ministries thrift store in Lakeland, along with building a platform to elevate the register and staff area;
  • Removing the carpet in the chapel of the Lighthouse Men’s Center where worship services are held daily for homeless men seeking overnight shelter, and replacing it with a new tile floor;
  • Refurbishing the exterior and landscaping at the Lighthouse Ministries thrift store in Plant City, along with interior painting and clean-up;
  • Assisting the Children’s Ministries department at Highland Park Church with construction work on a new children’s worship area and painting a beautiful new wall mural at the entrance for the children.

Along with the physical labor provided, students interacted with Highland Park youth in three social outings and during the Wednesday night youth group meeting. Several students also spent time getting to know staff and residents in the various Lighthouse Ministries programs in Lakeland. The group spent time each evening in small group sharing revolving the question “what did you learn today?” and also enjoyed a day at a local beach and a Cleveland Indians spring training baseball game. Highlights shared by the group included:

“Seeing the children's faces after they had seen what we did to the children's church!” Samantha Bush, sophomore

One of the homeless men who came through the men’s center while we were working said when I asked him how he was doing, "I'm blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out." That blessed me! Justin Smith, junior

“My time in Lakeland revealed again to me that a Christian's life needs to have challenges so as not to dwell in stagnant homeostasis. Challenge most often equals growth.” Matt Sellers, sophomore

“I was taken out of my comfort zone and was able to expand my boundaries a little bit to do work I'd never done. I learned a lot about different types of service and structure within churches and ministries.” Brittany Watson, sophomore

“I grew close to a couple of ladies in the lighthouse ministry program, but one of the best moments soon after we arrived. At the church where we stayed, there were a couple of maintenance men who had been pretty stressed lately because of all of the activities the church had been doing. After the church's Saturday night service, these men were putting the chairs back in place in the sanctuary for the Sunday morning service the next day. Another guy and I decided to ask if they needed help, and all of us who were in the room pitched in. One of the girls in our group said something to one of the men and he gave such a huge smile. It was so great that we got to help them, ease their load. That was why we were there - to encourage and serve... it was an awesome experience.” Lindsey Holmes, sophomore

“The best moments of the trip were those that I spent getting to know the other people in our group. I'm proud of myself and what we were able to accomplish. I learned a lot about myself and other people, and it was an experience that I wouldn't give up!” Jessica Fortune, sophomore

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