Honored students award money to overseas ministries
By Samantha Hardcastle
Junior international business major Bethany Greeson and senior cell biology major Luke Cielonko received the Gary and Diane Heavin Servant Leadership Award recently.
It honors students each year for their vast amount of invested time in volunteering and community service. Recipients may donate a portion of their cash award to any organization they wish.
Both awards were presented to the students by university President Randy O’Rear at the 166th Convocation held in the Mayborn Campus Center Aug. 24.
Greeson and Cielonko decided to donate a portion of their $1,000 cash award to charities — Greeson to a slum ministry in India and Cielonko to Compassion International.
Dr. David E. Garland was the Convocation guest speaker and knows what it means to help others.
Having been a part of numerous ministries, including those across the world, the two students also share a heart to give back.
Jena Coulson, assistant director of the Baptist Student Ministry, met Greeson when she was a freshman.
“Watching Bethany grow deep in love and spirit has been a rewarding joy,” she said.
For the past two summers, Greeson has been a part of the Delhi Slum Ministry in India. She felt called to donate a portion of her award to a woman she met in the slum last year.
“This widow works five different jobs a day, seven days a week trying to provide for her two daughters. She is a woman with a beautiful heart who’s had a very tough life,” Greeson said. “As God has put her on my heart these past two years, I’ve tried to help her and her daughters out in any way I can.”
Also, a part of Greeson’s money will help provide a tutor in the slum to teach children after school for three days a week.
“I really want to give hope to the kids to be able to get out of the situation that they’re living in because they’re considered worthless right now,” Greeson said.
She wants the children to realize that their lives matter.
“I pray that as these kids grow older, that they would come to know Christ and also are given an opportunity for a better life through education.”
Coulson said, “Bethany’s heart and mind continually care for others. She came to UMHB with a heart for the nations and continues to act on her heart to make a difference for God among the nations.”
Cielonko also has a passion and heart for overseas ministry.
He has been a part of Compassion International since March 2010 and is donating a portion of his award to Compassion’s Leadership Development Program and the Medical Assistance Fund.
LDP assists students in need with books, college tuition and room and board. He chose the two because he seeks to be a doctor and sees the immense importance of leadership.
“Ultimately what it came down to was the hope that inspired,” Cielonko said.
He believes that the difference is not necessarily the money but that there is a genuine hope and how it is attained through Christ. He said that people see the truth, the hope, the love and the sweet act of Christ and because of this, that is the reason why he gives.
He quoted 2 Corinthians 8:9 and said that it basically embodies Compassion’s mission statement.
“It’s about giving up some money, becoming a little poor to provide something that these people in India and Peru and Rwanda and all over the world where Compassion works, need.”
Cielonko said, “I was really humbled by receiving this award.”
He felt God was challenging him in some way since most people don’t think about giving up a portion of what they earned to the church; Cielonko felt God was speaking to him to give a portion of it to an organization.
“The fact that God provides in all circumstances,” he said, is something that will never cease to amaze him.