By Emily Wells

Following Hurricane Florence’s recent devastation of North Carolina’s coastal areas, I have heard many Montreat College students say that they wish there was something they could do to help the thousands that have been misplaced and affected. Beyond prayer and fundraising, many students felt like their efforts to help were useless because they could not serve on site. One Montreat student, though, was given a unique opportunity to help.

Brad Wilder, a second semester freshman, is also enlisted in the National Guard. He was recently deployed to the N.C. coast to help in the hurricane relief efforts. While there, he and his unit helped with evacuating residents and giving hope and assistance to those in need. One of the areas Wilder and his comrades served was Whiteville, N.C., which is also his hometown. Some things he experienced during his time there were the typical hurricane aftermaths: submerged cars, water damage, and stranded victims.

In addition to the more obvious evidence of destruction, Wilder says there are other things that you miss when disaster hits. “I think we get comfortable and forget about the little things that are important like lights, power, and food, and being able to help others,” he says. “Honestly, I wish it was mandatory for the whole school to go and see what it’s like so we can be more appreciative of what we have. I don’t think a lot of people understood the importance of little things like stoplights. When those are shut off and you are forced to use your driver’s training, you realize how much more dangerous things become. I think being appreciative of what you have is the biggest thing, because you never know when it can be taken away.”

Wilder, who says his calling in life is to spread positivity in Jesus’ name, found it the most challenging to watch the children who were affected. “I think everyone down there is in a state of despair,” he says. “I don’t want to think less of the adults, but they are able to comprehend what they are in. I really think about the kids a lot, because they don’t understand what is going on. They are used to being taken care of by their parents but they don’t understand that there is nothing their parents can do. To see their face when you have to go in and get them out, they don’t understand, and they are scared. They are definitely in a state of feeling helpless.” Wilder says that in even this state of despair, he finds people to be receptive to the Gospel and being able better understand the power of God.

Wilder has certainly represented Montreat well in his service, and we are all grateful. He is known on campus as a smiling face and a friend to talk to. His long-term vision is to use the gift of communication that God has given him to inspire and motivate people around the world at a high level and bring as many people closer to the Lord as he can.