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48-hour ‘Urban Plunge’ pushes students ‘to look need in t

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–According to Webster, plunge means: “To thrust or cast oneself quickly and forcibly into something.”
That’s a fitting description for what a group of University of Mobile students experienced as they took part in UM’s first-ever “Urban Plunge.”
Taking the plunge were almost 70 collegians and leaders who traveled to five cities in five different states for a 48-hour inner-city missions experience.
The five groups, made up of about 13 members each, traveled to Birmingham, Ala; Tallahassee, Fla.; Jackson, Miss.; Atlanta; and New Orleans.
Moses Caesar, director of spiritual development at UM, defined the Feb. 5-7 Urban Plunge as “an opportunity for students to look need in the face and have the courage to do something about it.”
During the weekend, the UM students were involved in a variety of missions projects, from physical labor to prayerwalking and door-to-door evangelism.
By “totaling submerging” the students into the inner cities, Caesar hoped “to eliminate their fears by exposing them to the reality [of urban life].” Also, he said he hopes Urban Plunge helped each student discover his or her place in helping to alleviate social ills.
“Although the urban need is massive, we as individuals can make a difference,” Caesar said.
Planning to make Urban Plunge an ongoing ministry each semester, Caesar expressed his desire to build relationships in those selected cities and also “guarantee that the maximum number of students get involved as possible.” The concept for Urban Plunge was modeled after similar projects Caesar observed while attending California Baptist University in Riverside.
In Birmingham, the urban plungers ministered to women and children at Jessie’s Place, a branch of the Jimmie Hale Mission for Battered Women and Children; provided assistance at the Bessemer Rescue Mission; and ministered to the homeless in the city streets.
For Jenny Covington, a junior majoring in music education at UM, the Urban Plunge her first missions experience. She said the weekend helped her dispel the stereotypes often associated with those who live in the inner city. “Now I know more about the reality that’s here,” she said.
The Birmingham group was led by Troy Nicholson, a senior majoring in religion at UM and youth pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Mobile.
Nicholson, who grew up in the Birmingham area, said, “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I pray this will break my spirit and get me back to reality.”
The weekend resulted in changed lives, for both the cities’ inhabitants and the students, Nicholson said.
“I think God will do mighty things in the hearts of the lives we’ve touched,” he said. “But even greater has been done in the hearts of those of us who are taking the Urban Plunge.”

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  • Jason Skinner