Weathering the storm: WCU hosts evacuees from New Orleans

By SUZANNE MONK,

As Hurricane Barry approached the Louisiana coast, 24 college students serving as GenSend missionaries in New Orleans were evacuated on buses sent by Hardy Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. The students spent the weekend in residence halls at William Carey University and attended worship services on Sunday morning at Hardy Street Baptist Church.

“William Carey University is so grateful for the assistance we received from others after the tornado, and we’re pleased we were able to reach out to these students during their time of need,” said WCU President Dr. Tommy King.

The story began on Thursday, July 11, when Dr. Scott Hanberry, pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church, got a phone call from Dr. George Ross, a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Ross also oversees the GenSend Project for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board.

Ross had a problem. Parts of New Orleans were already flooding, the storm’s expected path and strength were in flux, and he needed to move a group of college missionaries to high ground as a precaution. He called his friend, Scott Hanberry at Hardy Street. Hanberry called another mutual friend, WCU’s Dr. Brett Golson of the Department of Christian Ministries.

“I told him William Carey University would be happy to put them up for the weekend. We had a plan by about 10 a.m. Hardy Street sent the buses while we finished working out the logistics on our end,” Golson said.

By 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, the students had arrived on campus.

On Friday, WCU’s Dr. Bennie Crockett gave the students a tour of The Carey Center. William Carey, for whom the university is named, is called the “Father of Modern Missions” for his extensive work during the 1800s as a missionary and linguist in India. The Carey Center’s two main exhibits house artifacts from his time in both England and India.

WCU hosts took the students out to eat at The Midtowner one night, and they got a feel for downtown Hattiesburg. On Sunday, Hardy Street Baptist Church picked them up for breakfast and worship services.

“Our congregation was thrilled to meet them,” Hanberry said.

“It’s one thing to be part of the Southern Baptist family and support their work financially through the cooperative program, which funds missionary outreach, but being able to worship with them on Sunday was very special for us.”

On Sunday afternoon, as the rain let up, the students boarded the buses one last time to return to their mission projects in inner city New Orleans.

PREP SPORTS: