ALPHARETTA, Ga.(BP)–An estimated 15,000 students will find themselves on ladders, roofs and a spiritual high this summer as participants in World Changers, a volunteer student ministry of the North American Mission Board. With a total of 74 projects nationally and internationally, World Changers organizers are preparing themselves for the biggest summer to date.
In 10 years, World Changers has already put more than 65,000 junior high and high school students “on mission” in various communities — all with the purpose of serving others in the name of Christ. The second decade of ministry looks even more promising, with registration reflecting more than 1,000 percent growth since World Changers’ humble beginnings in 1990.
The latest registration figures, well above 12,000, put the Southern Baptist ministry far ahead of numbers a year ago. In addition to participants’ interest, an unprecedented 58 cities and counties are opening their doors to World Changers this summer, along with six international mission fields.
“God is at work among students,” said Jim Burton, NAMB’s director of volunteer mobilization. “World Changers proves what can happen when students are affirmed, equipped and empowered to serve in Christ’s name.”
World Changers gives Christian youth a prepackaged missions opportunity to actively live out their faith. While staying in local schools and churches, participants trade their beds for air mattresses and vacationing for hard work. During the day, they work on “crews” doing light construction or volunteer work in low-income areas selected by World Changers and local government agencies. The evenings provide an exciting combination of high-energy worship and team-building activities.
“For me, I go back all the time because I love telling others about Christ,” said senior Brandy Arrington of First Baptist Church, Walterboro, S.C. “I love to have someone ask me why I’m working on this person’s house or why I’m paying money to do this when I’m not getting anything for it. I tell them this is my way of showing how much Christ loves them.”
This year marks a number of firsts for World Changers. The summer brings a new project in Kingston in Ontario, Canada, as well as an expansion to four projects in Puerto Rico.
Also notable are eight international projects under the direction of the International Mission Board in Richmond, Va. New locations include Sydney, Australia; Los Mochis and Culiacan, Mexico; Brasilia, Brazil; and Johannesburg, South Africa; along with a return trip to Amman, Jordan.
“It’s amazing to see how God has flung the doors wide open for World Changers to enter countries where normally Christians wouldn’t be welcomed,” said Andy Morris, NAMB’s manager of student volunteer mobilization. “With each new project, we have that many more chances to touch lives all over the world. We really treasure each opportunity to share the love of Christ in a tangible way through service. When students live out their faith in these experiences, they walk away with their worlds changed.”
Such breakthroughs have prompted a new excitement among Christian students to become involved. But it’s not just students who are preparing for their particular projects. Adult leaders are also working behind the scenes to make sure the weeks pass without a hitch. Already, more than 300 adults are trained and mobilized in the communities where World Changers will have projects this year.
These leaders, known as coordinators, serve in a variety of roles, from training the students in light construction to making sure lunches arrive at work sites every day. The largest gathering of World Changers coordinators to date took place Jan. 19-22 at the annual Coordinators’ Retreat in Atlanta, officially kicking off the preparation for the summer.
“I think the Coordinators’ Retreat helps us to become prepared and organized. It teaches you how to get through the whole project,” Jack Lister, second-year project coordinator, said. “The retreat is a great kickoff to what’s going to happen this summer.”
This summer, World Changers projects will run from June 10 until Aug. 5. Registration is open until May 1.
For a list of project sites and information, visit www.studentz.com on the Internet. For more information or to register, call 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6450. For information on International World Changers, call 1-800- 999-3113, ext. 1355.
Lim is a media specialist for World Changers.