CIU students roll up their sleeves to minister after hurricane

Aden Corley, a freshman in the Bible Teaching program, handles a saw during clean up in Lake Charles.
October 06, 2020

Columbia International University junior Kaylyn Stewart says the people of Lake Charles, Louisiana feel forgotten over a month after enduring Hurricane Laura, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the area with winds of 150 miles per hour.

Stewart was among 26 CIU students who travelled to the Louisiana Gulf Coast on a disaster relief trip Oct. 1-5, led by Dr. Michelle Raven, associate professor of Disaster Relief and Emergency Management.

“I think I’ll remember that the world is so much bigger and there is so much more need and pain than we see from media,” Stewart said in an email as she headed back to Columbia.

The CIU work crew concentrated much of their efforts on debris clean up and repairs in three locations, including Lakewood Bible Fellowship Church where the crew was sheltered.

Stewart says the experience gave God an opportunity to speak into her life.

“God taught me a lot about selfishness and what it really means to die to ourselves, especially with working and attitude,” wrote Stewart, a Humanities major.

Stewart reports that she carried debris and worked on a fence, but among her primary tasks, was photography. 

“I hope to somehow incorporate disaster relief or photojournalism into my career if God wills it,” Stewart added. “This trip was so fulfilling for me because I got to do a little bit of both.”

Also on the trip was Tyler Marshall, a junior majoring in Youth Ministry, Family, & Culture. He noted God's faithfulness to those in need.

"A church and its community were in need and me and a large group of individuals came to help a community in Louisiana," Marshall wrote in an email. "So this trip was a reminder to me ... that when we need help for anything we should ask and pray to the Lord for assistance." 

Tryphene Dewanou, a senior Psychology major, echoed that same theme in her email reponse.

"Even in the midst of a storm, not only was God with the people of Lake Charles, but He went before them, and already prepared ways to provide for them," Dewanou wrote. "One of those ways was our team from CIU."

With record enrollment in 2020, BestColleges.com ranks Columbia International University the 2020 Best Online College in South Carolina, and CIU is #2 in the state for Best College Campus. CIU also consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South and a Best Value Regional University in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Request information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.