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Collegians lend a hand in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (BP)–While others may have swarmed U.S. beaches, 120 collegians ventured to Cleveland, Ohio, for the North American Mission Board’s first-ever PowerPlant project for college students in March.

PowerPlant volunteers from Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Massachusetts paid their way to Cleveland to conduct surveys, make door-to-door outreach visits and do servant evangelism.

PowerPlant is a NAMB ministry designed to engage high school, middle school and now college students in church planting and evangelism. Participants learn basic principles and skills each morning, then put them into action through ministry team activities in the afternoon.

PowerPlant partnered with Cleveland Hope, one of NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities initiatives, with a church-launching network that supports 19 church plants.

Jonathan Wilson, student volunteer mobilization associate for NAMB, said Cleveland’s diverse population provided an international flair for missions without having to leave the continental United States.

“Cleveland was a natural spot for us to pilot a spring break collegiate PowerPlant project,” said Wilson. “God is doing some great things through Cleveland Hope and church planting there, and we wanted college students to jump in and be a part of that.”

Participants lodged and met at a downtown hotel and then fanned out across the city to work with seven church plants during the March 11-16 project.

A number of students grappled with northeast Ohio’s spiritual climate, realizing how much more challenging it is compared to their home turf, Wilson said.

“While out surveying, many doors remained closed and people were found to be unreceptive,” he said. “Still, some learned that passing out doggie treats to Clevelanders with dogs opened up conversations that easily led to why the students were showing the community they care.”

Nevertheless, the teams saw God use them during the week.

“The seeds the students were planting during ministry time, the knowledge imparted during teaching sessions and the divine appointments that were encountered encouraged the students and blessed the church planters and their ministries,” said Sarah Edwards, local ministry coordinator for the week.

“We in Cleveland were blessed by these students and are excited to see what kind of long-term impact this week will have,” she said, adding, “Hopefully, the seeds planted in each student will make them blossom into mission-minded individuals, even future church planters.”

Kevin Litchfield, PowerPlant project coordinator for Cleveland Hope, said the PowerPlant collegians “experienced firsthand the need for church planting in Cleveland” but realized that “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

This summer, 15 more PowerPlant projects are scheduled across North America, engaging more than 2,000 participants in church planting and evangelism.
For more information on PowerPlant, go to www.power-plant.net.

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  • Amber Holmes