?prez?ns/ noun
1 the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing.

What does it mean to be present with God? That was the focus of our Students on this year’s mission trip. Eliminating distractions, being present with each other, and being present to the working of God here and now.

With a plan in place our staff, chaperons, volunteers and high schoolers headed to the Texas Coastline, working with Coastal Bend Disaster Relief to aid in Hurricane Harvey relief. When they arrived at the coast, they were met with hurricane type conditions themselves. After a day of working on houses outdoors, storms blew it was time to move indoors. It was also time to put the idea of being present to the test. “God, we want to be present to your workings here and now, lead us where you want us.”

One of the places God led was to the food bank. The food bank found themselves extremely behind on stocking their shelves after Hurricane Harvey and when our youth left the mission trip, the food bank was all caught up. Work was also done at the Salvation Army sorting clothes, and the First Baptist Church Corpus to prepare for Vacation Bible School.

Evenings were spent in fellowship, worship, and meaningful conversations. Each day had a theme which included, presence in service, presence in love, presence in joy, and presence in authenticity. According to Associate Director of Student Ministries, Brendan Burge, the youth came together like he has never seen before. There were no clicks or groups, everyone became open and vulnerable allowing them to grow in Christ-like community. On this trip, Brendan explained that, “the Senior leadership was a big part of the overall group camaraderie…they were all willing and quick to include whoever was around them.”

A few weeks after the high schoolers returned, when the sun was shining bright and temperatures were in the 90s, our team of middle schoolers headed south. God began a good work with the high schoolers, and then God allowed the middle schoolers to continue see that good work come to fruition.

Before storms hit, our high schoolers were working on a house that was at the studs, the high schoolers insulated and begin sheet rocking it before being moving to indoor job sites. A group of our middle schoolers were able to go into the same house to prime, paint, and sand down the drywall. Because of the combined relief efforts, the owner of the home was able to apply for inspection the week after the middle schoolers left.

The middle schoolers were also able to share God’s love and hear the stories of several home owners. One man lost his home and beach equipment rental business in the floods. Many other people are working tirelessly to continue to pay the mortgage on their ruined homes in addition to rent on apartments while their homes are in repair.

Director of Student Ministries, Colton Willis, explained that “the devastation at the coastline is still insane.” But he can see God’s hand orchestrating the relief efforts through his people. Colton, Brendan, and all involved with Coker’s Students can see the youth of Coker building in community and drawing closer to Christ through being present.

Our student ministries is always in need of volunteers both men and women who feel called to work with youth. From single events, to week long mission trips, to mentoring, teaching, or administrative help. If you feel called, contact Colton Willis at