New student-led BSM ministry takes on abuse

Mistreatment lurks within homes and becomes visible in the eyes of helpless people. Their pleas for help go unnoticed, but Abuse Victims Ministry comes to their aid and wants others to do the same.

Senior Psychology major Lisa Cave’s vision for the ministry arrived from her platform in the Miss UMHB pageant last year.  As soon as applications for Ministry Leadership Council came out, Cave snagged one and talked to director of Baptist Student Ministries Shawn Shannon and co-directors about her idea.

“I felt like there are a ton of ministries on campus and that was just kind of a gap we were missing. There was a need for it,” she said.

Cave revealed that abuse will affect about 25 percent of undergraduates at some point in their college careers.

She wants students to gain awareness about abuse. It’s a prevalent issue and, as a result, Cave knows many people who have experienced it.

“I feel like it’s something that’s kept hidden. When it’s kept hidden, it doesn’t get better,” she said.

For now, the group meets at 7:30 p.m. at the BSM on Thursdays. Cave wants to do a huge fundraiser each semester.  In the fall, the group plans to produce care packages for a shelter located in Waco.  The kit program will include items families have left behind during their escape from abuse.

During the spring, the ministry plans to raise money and serve at Hope Alliance in Round Rock. The facility has a program called Adopt-A-Room, in which people receive utility apartments that volunteers decorate with homey features.

Students with a desire to help with Abuse Victims Ministry must attend volunteer training.

“The goal of this ministry is to bring people hope and let them know that there is another side at the end of this journey,” Cave said.

Over the summer she learned that junior history major Emily Allen would be joining her in pioneering this ministry.

“I have a great heart for people who have been abused. Normally, I think that there’s a stigmatism with it and a lot of people … feel  compassion or feel sorry but that’s the extent to what they do,” she said.

Allen was in an abusive dating relationship even though she had a great home life growing up. She believes she is blessed to have parents who helped her out of it.

“Some people just don’t know how to seek help,” she said.

Allen described the challenges of training volunteers to serve in the ministry. Places to help out are in the Belton, Killeen and Waco area but each facility has its own requirements. They usually do not train groups as large as Abuse Victims Ministry. Because of security concerns, some locations are not receptive to training a lot of women.

Social worker Sarah Whitmire of Early Childhood Intervention supports the idea of this new group.

“I think that any ministry on campus that addresses issues that are socially taboo is a great way to educate students who may not realize the extent or severity of abuse that goes on within their own communities,” she said.

She offered some advice to students deciding to serve in this ministry.

“Be slow to speak and willing to listen,” she said. “Another important factor is commitment to the ministry and the people involved. Many abuse victims struggle developing trust so only showing up when it’s convenient for you is not OK.”

Students interested in joining the vision can find this group on Facebook.

Cave said, “The goal of this ministry is to be God’s hands and feet for a group of people who sometimes get overlooked and … who think that there’s no hope.”

Author: Chelesea Carter

Chelesea Carter is a senior English major minoring in writing at UMHB. She is an assistant page editor for The Bells newspaper. Though she came from the small town of Caldwell, Texas, she spent most of her teenage years in Aggieland. Chelesea enjoys baking delicious goodies, reading novels and discovering new things about others. Writing about social issues allows Chelesea to share her compassion for helping others. Her life-long goal is to improve the desolate state of the world.

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