NASHVILLE (BP) — A group of Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee staff members participated in 2017 World Changers youth mission initiatives that combined Gospel conversations with service projects at 712 sites nationwide.
Four members of the Executive Committee (EC) staff participated in the Nashville outreach July 17–21, leading a team of youth from 12 churches in projects across the city. The volunteers were among 8,000 who served in 50 cities in June and July that led to nearly 5,000 Gospel presentations and 281 decisions for Christ, according to LifeWay Christian Resources, which has partnered with World Changers ministry since 2011.
“On the surface it is easy to label the effectiveness of World Changers in terms of work done and jobs completed, but the true impact is so much deeper,” Ben Trueblood, LifeWay’s student ministry director, told Baptist Press. “Each summer as part of World Changers projects, teenagers are trained in how to share their faith and are given opportunities to engage in Gospel conversations within the communities they are serving, and each summer we hear stories about teenagers leading people to Christ through these conversations.”
Two Nashville locations of Cottage Cove Urban Ministries, a nondenominational outreach to at-risk children and their families, were among several sites served by the Nashville team. For the afterschool and summer program that serves 85 children a week with a staff of only four fulltime employees, the help of World Changers is invaluable, Cottage Cove Executive Director Brent MacDonald told BP.
“We’re highly dependent on volunteers, not only for our everyday program, but when you have a group like World Changers that comes in, you get those big projects done,” MacDonald said. “The projects that are labor intensive, we just don’t get a chance to get to, it seems. It’s just invaluable to us.”
World Changers completed several projects for Cottage Cove, providing extensive yard work, painting the inside of a fence surrounding a playground and beginning construction on an external shed.
Wayne Mann, EC manager of information technology, volunteered as a construction supervisor and oversaw the work of one of the teams who volunteered at Cottage Cove. Mann said he appreciated the opportunity to encourage students in service and ministry.
“It provides an opportunity to work with students and help them complete projects and watch them realize that it really does change lives,” Mann said. “This provides opportunities to all involved to share the Gospel. This also gives me the opportunity to be involved in helping people in a different way. I enjoy working with my hands, so it’s a chance to do something to help people that is not IT-related.”
In addition to the Cottage Cove work, the five teams Mann supervised built wheelchair and handicap ramps at homes of people in need and patched and painted walls at a community center for the elderly.
SBC Building superintendent Phil Baker volunteered as Nashville construction coordinator. Other EC volunteers were executive assistant Sharon Robinson, and Executive Vice President and General Counsel August “Augie” Boto.
World Changers, founded in 1990 by the former SBC Brotherhood Commission, describes its missions as helping churches make disciples “by providing missions experiences that develop the heart of students for serving others and sharing the Gospel so they can change the city (and) world.” World Changers expanded its reach by partnering with LifeWay Student Ministries.