From fire to ice, digital overload to complete power outages, this year has brought one unexpected challenge after another for Corban students. The fallout of the recent storm that left thousands across the region without power, hot water, or internet access, and with damaged homes and property, piled on top of Corban students like the crushing weight of inch-thick ice. On campus, massive trees obstructed main pathways and access roads, crashed into campus buildings, and knocked down powerlines, leaving students without heat, internet access for instruction, hot water, or physical access to needed resources during a year that has already been so limited.
“It looked like a hurricane had come through here,” said Joe Gadbaugh. Joe leads the Corban Care team, a group of student workers who help provide meals and support to students in quarantine due to COVID symptoms or exposure. He is no stranger to the devastating effects of the past year and a half. Immediately before arriving at Corban, he and his wife were living in a church sound booth after the devastating wildfires of late fall had burned down the camp that they oversaw near Lyons, Oregon. Now Joe has shifted his service, helping students through the fear and loss he understands all too well.
“Our primary goal is to feed people,” he said. “But right alongside that is to provide the feeling that they are known, that they have not slipped through the cracks, and that people are praying for them and supporting them.” When the ice storm hit campus, in the immediate aftermath, Joe helped to organize a prayer meeting for his student staff to cover Corban’s campus in the warmth of prayer and hospitality as his team prepared for new and added difficulties. “Seeing the student workers taking hold of this challenge and run with it has been beautiful to watch,” he said. “As our team engages with people who are suffering in fear and the unknown, we get to walk in the Spirit through hospitality and see how that begins to tear down these strongholds of fear.”
With no power in the dorms, no internet access or cell reception, and most roads left unnavigable, the students on the Corban Care Team braved the ice, snow, and fallen trees to help deliver food and blankets to their peers. “We still had to stick to our duties, because we had many students relying on our services to eat,” said team member Stella Johansen. “We still managed to do it by strapping on our boots and getting out in the snow and ice.”
As they walked from dorm to dorm, handing out food, blankets, and bottled water, even in the dark and cold they witnessed the warmth they had prayed for. Students gathered together to pray, to play games by candlelight, and to join in worship. “Yes, we couldn’t shower, we were cold, and we were emotional at times, but there was a growth as a community and reliance on Jesus that made every instant of difficulty absolutely worth it,” said fellow worker Emma Montigney. “Undistracted, genuine worship occurred in the dark. There was a spirit of gratefulness that triumphed over the grumbles of discomfort.”
And it wasn’t only the Corban Care Team that was out in force to help. Independently, Corban students began to step up and lend a hand. “I had several students who I didn’t even know just show up during the week to help clear and stack limbs,” said Director of Facilities & Campus Operations, Troy Croff.
The morning after the storm, students continually reached out to Croff asking how they might help the maintenance and facilities staff. Two student leaders, Corban Student Body President Tobi Adeoye and Resident Assistant Alexis Gonzales, both contacted Croff, working with him to set up a student clean-up party.
“In the aftermath, I wished I could open my dorm room to friends who needed a warm place or a hot shower. I didn’t like feeling helpless or restricted in my ability to help,” Gonzales said. “I also saw how hard Corban was working to get the campus safe for students and to create other options for students who had no power such as showers in the gym and laundry in the Aagard laundry room.” But it was on a walk with one of her hallmates, a student from Papua Indonesia, between the fractured trees that littered the campus paths, that Gonzales realized what needed to be done.
“As we were walking around campus observing the ice and fallen trees, she told me how if this happened back home, everyone would be out trying to help with clean-up,” she said. “That opened my eyes to see that Corban students needed to do something about this. So, from there I went forward with contacting Troy and seeing what we could do to get students involved with cleaning up our campus.”
The first Saturday following the storm, under Croff’s guidance and direction, a team of Corban students joined with the maintenance staff, helping to clean up and move piles of debris to clear paths and roadways. “They made a huge dent in the amount of work that we have to do,” said Croff. “It’s just been so encouraging to see our community come together to want to restore our campus.”
It was a scene of mutual support—community once again united through adversity. And throughout the week, students continued to show their support not only for each other, but for the maintenance staff and grounds crew. “It was so encouraging to see students come out to help and show our maintenance team that we appreciate them and care about them. I can’t imagine them having to clean up the entire campus by themselves,” said Gonzalez. “My hope is that Corban students continue to pursue the desire to help and serve where it is needed, whether it is on campus or in the community. We have the opportunity to make a difference, big or small, right here, right now.”
The shared experience, though difficult, proved to be galvanizing for many students. “This was a good thing for the Corban community,” says Montigny. “Before the ice storm, I saw people spend more time isolated in their rooms and a lot of time on social media. This caused the community to come together and fellowship. I saw peace and rest in the midst of an insane predicament.”
Fellow Corban Care Team member Stella Johansen agrees. “This year many of us had our plans flipped upside down, and we felt lost,” she said. “But It’s crazy how quickly God can change your life. I loved seeing how the Corban community got the chance to slow down for a minute and be present with the fellow students around them. I saw many halls grow closer as they played card games by the dim light of a candle. Now I have more faith than ever that His perfect plan will always come through.”
Through lockdowns and distancing, fire and ice, Corban continues to not only endure, but to thrive. Whether it is the hard work of Croff and his crew, the efforts of Joe Gadbaugh and Corban Care Team workers like Emma and Stella or the resilience of the student body itself, Corban continues to display the sense of community that sets it apart—a community united in a love for one another and for Jesus Christ.