BROWNWOOD – November 1, 2016 – Students from Howard Payne University’s Baptist Student Ministry spent the university’s recent Fall Break in Houston learning about three of the city’s marginalized populations and assisting with outreach programs to those groups.
Led by Keith Platte, director of HPU’s BSM, the group connected with the Church at UH (University of Houston) to learn about the needs of refugees, human-trafficking victims and homeless in the city and how churches in the area are assisting those groups.
The first day they learned about refugees in Houston and how individuals and groups through the Baptist General Convention of Texas have assisted those communities to grow in faith and fellowship. Platte and the students then had the opportunity to play with children in an apartment complex where many Bhutanese and Burmese refugees live.
“Our students got to know some of the challenges that refugees face and how people can learn how best to help them,” said Platte.
The next day, the group learned about the city’s homeless population and human-trafficking victims.
“The first half of the day we cleaned donated shoes for a homeless ministry called Lord Of The Streets,” Platte said. “Then we went to the place where they meet and learned from the group’s director. We got to ask many questions about best practices in addressing help and care for homeless people, and we learned much about the homeless situation in Houston.”
Platte and the students then met with members of a group called Elijah Rising, which helps rescue and restore women who have come out of human-trafficking situations.
“We got to hear from their director, Cat, about the current climate in Houston on sex trafficking, reasons it is growing so quickly and why Elijah Rising is in need of advocates,” Platte said. “Our group also got to tour the Museum of Modern-Day Slavery, which in itself was a huge learning tool.”
The group then traveled through neighborhoods of Houston that have been verified as places which are trafficking women.
The group concluded Fall Break by participating in a worship service with Lord of the Streets during which the students served breakfast and shared in communion with the attendees.
Platte said students grew through their experiences as they saw how some of God’s followers are responding to the city’s needs.
“I believe our students came away with a much greater awareness of God’s heart for the people society has marginalized,” he said.
In addition to Platte, those on the trip included Jaclyn Bonner, senior from Lytle; Karli Conrad, junior from Katy; Taylor Davis, freshman from Alvin; Zoe Emley, sophomore from Natalia; Sarah Fernandez, sophomore from Goliad; Lauren Gravell, freshman from Fredericksburg; Dillon Hughes, senior from Plano; Jessica Meeks, sophomore from Bridgeport; and Bailey Patton, freshman from Grand Prairie. Zac Sterling, campus missionary, accompanied the group.