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2 World Changers volunteers die from natural causes

ALPHRARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In less than a week, two adult volunteers on World Changers projects have died.

Susan Adams, 52, a member of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., died on a work site in Savannah on July 18. Barbara Pace, 66, from First Baptist Church in Ellenwood, Ga., was found dead the morning of July 22 at the Trenton, Mo., World Changers project.

Both deaths were ruled to be from natural causes.

World Changers projects have involved 125,000 volunteers in the past 14 years and the two deaths are the first in its history.

“The Lord has protected us for 13 years,” said John Bailey, manager of student volunteer mobilization for the North American Mission Board. “Both of these ladies had a heart for service and answered a call to serve Him, wherever. They died doing what they wanted to do.”

Adams worked on a roofing job in Savannah throughout the week. On the last day of the project she worked through the morning and joined her group for lunch.

“She sat through lunch and devotions for about an hour, then they all got up to go back to work and as she was heading for the roof she fell down,” said John Ashworth, associational missionary for the Savannah association and associational coordinator for the Savannah World Changers project.

“Adults immediately started CPR. We think it was a heart attack. We are very saddened by her death and our heart goes out to the family in their loss. She had a magnetic personality and enjoyed being with World Changers serving our Lord.”

Adams’ pastor, Dave Shorter, drove down the day before her death for a surprise visit with the group.

“Susan was one of the first people I saw,” he said. “She was excited that her niece had been up on a roof nailing shingles. That was something she had never done before. Susan told me it had been a wonderful trip.”

Funeral services for Adams were held July 21.

Pace had volunteered to chaperone for the World Changers project. She did not work on a house, but served as the assistant first aid coordinator for the Trenton, Mo. project.

She died in her sleep and was found dead on Tuesday morning of the weeklong project.

“She wasn’t doing any physical labor. The coroner said it was most likely a massive heart attack during the night,” said Alisa Campbell, the Trenton, Mo., project coordinator and associate program director for HouseCalls International in Alpharetta.

“The students found her (in the morning). It was difficult for a while, but the workday continued. Everyone just buckled down,” she said.

Steve Hill, youth pastor at First Baptist in Ellenwood, Ga., said Pace was a diabetic and had a desire to serve others.

“Her prayer had been that when she died it could be said that she died serving the Lord,” Hill said. “God answered that prayer at World Changers with our youth group.”

Pace, who served as a Sunday school teacher and church hostess, had volunteered to chaperone the girls, although she didn’t want to go on the trip.

“Without her the girls would not have been able to go,” Hill said. “She told me, ‘God wants me to go, but I don’t want to go.’ But she went so the girls would be able to go and serve the Lord.”

Funeral services for Pace were held July 27.

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  • Sherri Brown