Nashville Day Five

Winner winner, catfish dinner! Thursday was an exciting and action-packed day for the group as it saw its weeklong preparation for the Inner City Church of Christ’s annual catfish dinner come to fruition. As an added bonus, we  saw the addition of Jessa Watkin’s brother, Zach, to our group. 

The morning started out with the group door-knocking in a neighborhood nearby the Inner City Church that did not garner much success. However, as noon came around, the group transitioned into the James Casey housing development—the largest housing project in the city of Nashville. With this change in location came a change in the responses we received. The hour spent in James Casey resulted in the most successful evangelism effort produced all week and served as an extremely encouraging end to our time in the community for our trip.

Following our time spent door-knocking, we returned to the Inner City Church for an excellent pizza lunch and enjoyed fellowshipping with some of the staff of the church. Upon finishing lunch, Deonte, Josh, and Zach returned to Madison Church of Christ in order for Deonte to complete his midterm (in which he achieved a very impressive 30/31). At the same time, Dingyi, Ena Carol, Fred, Katherine, and Max visited a local Nashville landmark, McKay’s Bookstore. This respite served as a valuable time for us all to recharge as we prepared to serve during the evening’s festivities.

The Catfish dinner was a smashing fundraising success for the Inner City Church with over 650 people attending and taking a big chunk out of the $300,000 goal set by the church. Deonte, Dingyi, Zach, and Fred all helped to park the mob of cars outside as attendees arrived and we are very thankful for them doing so outside in the cold. Katherine, Josh, and Max helped to prepare and serve drinks inside the nice, cozy, and warm building and to clean up the main hall once the meal was finished. 

When our time at the Inner City Church was over, we came back to Madison Church of Christ to engage in our nightly reflections to talk about what we learned this week, what we can take back with us to Blacksburg, and what had an impact on us today. Lastly, we played card and board games and continued thoroughly and genuinely enjoying our time spent together. 

What a blessed day we had!

Written By: Max Morrison

Nashville Day Four

Wednesday 07 March 2018

Our day started by arriving at the Inner City Church of Christ to finish the task of cleaning the chairs however, as a very welcoming surprise they had a different job for us to do instead. We started setting the tables for the catfish dinner with baskets, utensils, paper towels and beautiful flower centerpieces. Helping along with us it was so encouraging to see a young mom with a newborn baby and a sweet little two year old volunteering her time in what we know must be a very busy schedule. There was also an older gentleman who had a two walking canes helping us to open packages and make it easier to set up all the tables. After that was all done we headed on back to Madison to enjoy round two of the delicious chicken spaghetti Mr. and Mrs. Morrison prepared of us. After getting all fueled up we made our way back to Bowling Green Kentucky to the Potters House for Children where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

Upon arrival we moved some furniture into a new apartment for a single mother and her newborn baby. The process was so easy and very organized they had everything already marked and we just loaded everything in the moving van. Their storage room was huge and filled with so much furniture that was all donated by the community. How the system works is, when a single parent family is placed in one of the apartments at the Potter house they are supplied with everything they need from including food, dishes, a television, bed frame, mattress, baby crib, new sheets and everything else. After everything was in the apartment we all started setting up the apartment washing the pots, pans, dishes, putting together the furniture that was broken down and staging the living room, bathroom, dining room, bedrooms and kitchen.

Next we took a tour of the Potters house where we learned about how everything worked and the history behind it. It started as a farm and then became a school and finally into the children’s home it is today. On site they have a boys and girls foster home, within each home a married couple lives with any biological children they have and then foster up to six children total. Each child has there own room and bathroom. The other half of the organization is the single parent housing these family’s have apartment units furnished by the Potter house. For every few families there is a Christian couple that live there as well. They are there to help guide those around them with transportation and babysitting occasionally but mostly to be a listening ear and helping them stay focused on there goals. As part of the requirements for living at the house they must attend a church on Sundays and Wednesday nights as well as continuing to better themselves and accomplishing goals to get them back on their feet so they can live back on their own.

At the end of the tour we learned that James Harding grave was located in a nearby cemetery. We took the short trip over there to check it out before heading back to play with the kids back at the Potters House.

When we finally got back the Potters House we were greeted by CJ and he brought his acoustic and electric guitar down so we could could jam out with him a little. He did a wonderful job of plucking the notes to Amazing Grace. As some other children began to arrive we all broke off to play some card games, legos, coloring and double dutch. The kids ate up any kind of attention they could get. It was so much fun getting to know their personalities better and the time just flew by we were all sad to be leaving. As we were driving away we noticed on the billboard it said “Thank you, VT volunteers” it was so sweet of them!

To finish off our night we ate and had a devotional with the Hilltoppers for Christ campus ministry. We were all really encouraged by how many people they had in attendance at their Wednesday nigh study and as alway our own campus minister delivered a wonderful devotional for the whole group.

Written By: Katherine Zebrowski

Nashville Day Three

Tuesday, March 6 2018


“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

The pungent smell of Fireball cleaner filled our noses, eyes and lungs this morning as we scrubbed and wiped off dirty chairs. These chairs will later be used for the catfish dinner being served on Thursday and Friday night in hopes that it will raise a significant portion for the church to use in renovations.

Unfortunately Ena Carol had a head cold and was unable to assist in our efforts today, but she was spared the toxicity of the chemical fumes from the Fireball. While most of us cleaned, Dingyi and Mr. Stacy went to deliver food to Ms. Renee -someone who we were able to talk to on Monday and who specifically asked that we bring her a lunchbox. Not only did they bring food, Dingyi also had the opportunity to share a bible verse and a devotional Mr. Stacy had printed off mistakenly for September 6 instead of March 6. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise though as Ms. Renee said this is exactly what she needed to hear and was encouraged.

As the afternoon rolled around, we drove to the Potters House in Bowling Green Kentucky. Here we met Ms. Geneva who had a retail/thrift store that needed volunteers. We took down displays so that other volunteers would have a blank slate to work with, and the majority of our time was spent sorting clothes into bins and hanging clothes on hangers. While this seems like a menial task, this work is valuable to the store as it frees up the other volunteers and sets them up to get more work done, faster.

Right across the parking lot from the store was the actualorphanage playground and building. There we got to meet some of the kids and play with them – football, basketball, a playhouse, on the playground. They reminded me a lot of the common ground kids as they were full of energy and really wanted to play!

It was time for dinner so we all went inside to have pizza and salad along with some drinks. This was a mixed group as there were some kids who were truly orphans and others who had parents drop them off. Here we got to know more of the children and find out what they liked. After everyone finished eating we got to play games. Some were playing tag, others blackjack, and one kid was playing Unturned on his laptop with a couple of other kids watching. It was great to spend time with them, but difficult to say goodbye.

We got to finish the day off by having the loveliest dinner at the Morrison’s. There was a delicious salad, chicken spaghetti and garlic bread. Max’s parents told the story of how they stole their cat from their neighbor which was pretty funny. We then moved outside where Max had set up a fire pit, and we all sat around reflecting on the day. Ms. Morrison had made some delectable blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream, so we shared our thoughts while having a great treat. We discussed how the kids are very socially aware and have different life experiences because they might be growing up with abusive or negligent parents, or sometimes no parents at all. It is important to have a consistent and firm foundation which God can provide, and I hope that they can see his love for them and latch onto it.

Moving forwards we are all looking forward to the catfish dinner! We have heard so many positive reviews, so we can’t wait to serve it fresh and hot to those who come.

Written By:  Josh Arnold


Nashville Day Two

Monday 3/5/18
After a good night of rest. The group assembled again at Nashville Inner City Church of Christ, now with Ena Carol and Fred, ready for some outreach. Our bus driver Mr. Stacey led the group again into the neighborhood.

Although it rained lightly, our door-knocking went really well. We always parked in the middle of the street. The eight of us split into two groups and went opposite ways. Every time one pair of two would knock on one door, the other two in the group would walk pass them and knock on the next door. Several of us had very nice conversations with the residents. Mr. Stacey also ran into a couple of people he knew when the Inner City Ministry was still at the old location. They were very tickled to see each other. And a couple of them promised to come to church next Sunday. Also worth mentioning is that when Mr. Stacey saw some of the kids he know were just hanging out, he asked them why they didn’t go to school. He then talked to them with a very genuine tone about how education can break the “cycle” and get them out of poverty. During all these, Mr. Stacey has stayed cheerful and never dropped one harsh word on these kids.

After a quick lunch, we got back to NICCC to help set up the building for their catfish fundraiser dinner. The group had such great energy that we finished stacking chairs and cleaned 70% of the folding chairs they were going to use for the dinner. Katherine and Ena Carol also helped making sandwiches for Bible class that’s happening later in the evening.

Just 10 minutes after we put up the paper towels and spray bottles, we headed out again, riding on a church bus with Mr. Stacey and his wife Mrs. Tiffany to pick up little kids for mid-week Bible school. The church we went to was Bellevue church of Christ. When we arrived at the church we had about 30 people, adults and kids. The kids were then divided into different age groups. I sat in the middle school age group. They were talking about planning and how we need to keep God in mind when we plan. To my surprise one of the girls who was causing a chaos on the bus had such willingness to learn. She asked our teacher if she could read the scriptures, after given permission, she read various verses and wanted to read more.

After the Bible class we all gathered in the gym and Bellevue church fed us pizza for dinner. All of the kids enjoyed this meal. A little boy named Markell made friend with all of us. He was just horsing around and giving everybody a blast. Markell took Josh to his teacher to introduce him his “brother” because Josh and he were both very tall. Max said that Markell told him “Because the marks on our hands are all the same, we must all be brothers”.

On our bus ride back to Nashville we were all affected by such a cheerful group of kids. So together we sang many songs. The Inner City kids had their “gospel rap” lined up and we also had fun singing our 4 parts harmony “some day” almost successfully, along with other songs like “10000 reasons”, “light the fire” and “as the deer”. I personally found great joy singing alone one song I learned at VBS last summer, Mobile kids’ ultimate favorite cheer song “Give me a J-E-S-U-S”.

After returning to Madison church of Christ, almost everyone in the group was tired. So we met shortly. Everyone shared their highlights of the day. We then went through our plan for tomorrow and wrapped up the day with a prayer.

In conclusion. Today was a willingness to serve-filled-day and I’m very thankful for this group of people I’m with and how God is using us on this trip.    (Written By: Dingyi Zhang)


Nashville day 1 Sunday March 4th

Nashville day 1 Sunday March 4th
After spending 6 hours on the road and listening to Nate, the youth minister here at Madison church of Christ, sharing his story about how he got to this church and what he learned from surviving his cancer. We had a night of rest and then headed to Nashville Inner City Church of Christ to serve the community. The NICCC building was remodeled from a old warehouse. Now only 1/3 of the building is used for bible classes and service. Another 1/3 has just been remodeled to be a gathering place when they serve free dinner to those who are in need. They had to put multiple push-bar doors at the exits to bring the building up to code. The last 1/3 of the building includes a work site with lots of construction material piled up and a garage that takes care of the church buses.

Talking bout the church buses, one of the elders at NICCC Lytle told us that at their peak time, they’d have roughly 30 buses going in all directions, picking up kids and teenagers and sending them to various churches of Christ for their mid-week Bible study. But this time we all rode in one bus. The bus driver’s name is Mr. Stacey. He is cheerful, polite and passionate to serve. Everyone on his bus, from little kids to seniors, can always expect a delightful greeting when they board the bus.

After we arrived in NICCC, the worship began. The selection of songs were very similar to the ones in Mobile. Their preacher Larry Cantrell gave a powerful and enthusiastic sermon on the tradition of slave owners piercing a slave’s ear (Exodus 21:5-6). He affirmed us that we all have the significant moment when we decided to follow Jesus, and those moments are our marks, marking our servanthood to Jesus.
After service, Nashville surprised us again with the baptism of our now new brother in Christ Ben. One of the church member Cornelius reached out to him one day at the store, and two weeks later here is Ben added to The Church through baptism. Praise the LORD!

In the afternoon we returned to Madison Church of Christ to join some of their teens and young adults for some games and basketball. Everyone had fun.

At night, we met shortly to sing and share thoughts about how everyone’s day went and  thoughts about the coming day. Everyone in the group expressed excitement about the outreach we are going to do on Monday.   (Written By: Dingyi Zhang)