College campuses occasionally experience large hardships and true tragedies, even ones extreme enough to make national newscasts. Four years ago this month, Virginia Tech experienced a terrible shooting; not long after another deadly shooting darkened the Husky tribe of Northern Illinois. While I was attending Texas A&M, twelve students were killed in the bonfire accident on campus.

Other hardships are less deadly but still make the news; I remember Union University, for instance, getting torn up by a tornado a few years ago.

This week (and especially last night), storms have been leaving destruction in their wake. I tweeted last night about the damage in Tuscaloosa, home to University of Alabama and several other schools. (UA is reporting on the damage here.) While I haven’t specifically read about college students losing their lives, over 150 people have died from this week’s storms in the South – so we need to be praying.

In times of these kinds of hardships, it’s natural for many outsiders to want to help – and of course, that’s awesome. Maybe your college ministry might even consider loving on the campuses or other places hurt by this week’s weather activities.

But if and as you do, I urge you to remember that not all help… helps. I wrote about this way back on the yearlong trip, after exploring Virginia Tech and Boston – both recipients of much Christian help through the years. I wrote,

In Boston, it’s a bit of an inside joke to mention the large amount of service that has come from elsewhere in the past few years; while plenty of “mission trips” or “service teams” have truly helped, several have been a little bit of a hassle, too. At Virginia Tech, likewise, there are occasional smiles-and-groans when reminiscing about some of the outside service received [following the shooting]. These ministers aren’t “looking a gift-horse in the mouth.” They’re just rightly recognizing that intention doesn’t always equal production – even in the realm of service. We can learn from their realizations.

We can learn from their realizations. I encourage you weigh carefully all of the ways you serve – locally, on mission trips, and in other forms of service. These posts might help:

Help and Help are Not the Same Thing

Of Moon Bounces and Granola Bars

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