News Articles

World Changers to celebrate 20th anniv., other milestones

SPRINGBORO, Ohio (BP)–Two years after sliding off a hot roof in Knoxville, Tenn. — severely breaking his left ankle — World Changers adult volunteer Ted Smith is at it again, leading Ohio high school and college students on an upcoming World Changers project in Cherokee, N.C. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Although it happened back in 2008 and my ankle’s still only 80 percent healed, I’ll never let it deter me from getting back on a roof and being at World Changers,” said the 49-year-old Smith, a regional sales manager for a manufacturer.

World Changers is an intense, hands-on missions experience for students sponsored and managed by the North American Mission Board.

Smith traveled to Cherokee in late April to meet with local project and construction coordinators in preparation for the week of July 12-17 when he and nine other adult volunteers will bring 18-20 student volunteers from their church, Springboro Baptist Church, to Cherokee, a west North Carolina mountain town some 400 miles away. The Springboro students will paint, repair roofs and build disability ramps for the less fortunate — at no cost to the homeowners.

Smith, in his ninth consecutive year as a World Changers leader, has his reasons for devoting a week each summer to the outreach.

“A lot of our kids are relatively affluent by world standards,” Smith says. “We want the kids to understand that it is God’s will for them to be on the trip, and that service to other people and giving back is a good thing. And although they will bring a lot of blessings to needy people, in the process a lot of the kids will wind up getting more blessed than the people they serve.”

Smith recommends World Changers for other adults who want to share God’s love in a practical way.

“You’re stepping out of your comfort zone, realizing that life is about more than yourself and showing people that God really does care for them,” Smith said.

World Changers will mark a number of key milestones this summer, not the least of which is its 20th anniversary. World Changers launched its first fledgling community project in Briceville, Tenn., near Knoxville, back in 1990.

Between June 7 and July 31, the 2010 edition of World Changers also will celebrate its 300,000th student participant, its 10,000th church youth group, the 100th summer project in Alabama and Georgia, the 400th house to be renovated in Casper, Wyo., and some $2 million raised through small contributions by the thousands of students who have participated in World Changers over the last 20 years.

That $2 million has gone solely to fund even more NAMB ministries across North America, said Jonathan Wilson, NAMB’s strategy development coordinator for World Changers and its companion ministry, PowerPlant.

“We want this summer to be one big celebration — for the 20th anniversary as well as to celebrate the thousands of Southern Baptist churches that have partnered with us over the years by sending their students to join us. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

This summer, World Changers will mobilize 21,000 student and adult volunteers to work in 85 cities on 97 projects across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Students from middle school to college-age will pay $249 each to serve on a team that will repair and renovate inner-city homes. Despite sweltering summer heat, students will paint houses, repair or replace roofs, do minor carpentry and yard work.

“With 21,000 registered students, we’re pleased in light of the current economy,” said Wilson, adding that NAMB reduced the fee this year in recognition of tighter money for both churches and families. World Changers also was cut back from seven days to a Monday-Saturday schedule. The $249 fee covers a week’s food, lodging, local transportation and materials. Participants provide their own transportation to and from the project.

“Going to the five-day model will allow our staff to facilitate more projects, streamline operations and help us use our resources more wisely,” Wilson said. “We’ll still be able to offer a great missions experience, one that will challenge the students to live ‘an unhindered life for God’ -– that’s our theme this year.

“Our Baptist churches have responded in a tremendous way to the changes,” Wilson added. “They understand we’re trying to be good stewards of our resources. Our team at NAMB works hard at providing the best missions experience we can at the best value.”

Wilson said World Changers will be in several new cities this summer, including Waianae, Hawaii; Waco, Texas; and Sugar Hill, Ga., north of Atlanta.

The World Changers website — www.world-changers.net — is the best source for information on the ministry and this summer’s 97 projects, Wilson said. Every project site will have a blog which will be updated daily. Streamed live video, including video of nightly worship services, also will be available from some locations.

Another 2,500 or so students have signed up for PowerPlant projects in 19 cities across the United States and in Ottawa, Ont., between June 7 and July 24. PowerPlant students gain real-world experience in church planting and evangelism. First-time PowerPlant cities will be Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Madison, Wis.

For additional information on NAMB’s PowerPlant ministry, go to www.power-plant.net.

The third of NAMB’s trio of summer group mission ministries is “Families on Mission,”, now in its fifth year. FOM is a pre-packaged, five-day mission opportunity for families — mom and dad, kids and even grandparents. It provides families with a hands-on experience of mission projects including prayerwalking, light construction, painting, yard work, Vacation Bible School, sports camps, block parties, acts of kindness and other evangelistic initiatives.

Each day begins with family devotions and evangelistic training, followed by ministry projects. Each evening starts with a large group gathering for praise and worship, teaching and testimonies. The day ends with a family huddle to discuss the impact of the day on family members.

Some 800 family members are expected to participate in one of seven FOM mission trips: Blue Ridge, Ga., June 6-11; Big Stone Gap, Va., June 13-18; Helen, Ga., June 20-25; Bryson City, N.C., June 27-July 1; Hannibal, Mo., July 11-16; Broken Arrow, Okla., July 18-23; and Shelby County, Ala., July 25-30.

Registration for each person is $250, including meals, lodging, printed materials and local transportation for the week. Transportation to and from the FOM site is the responsibility of the family.

For more information on Families on Mission, access www.namb.net/fom, e-mail [email protected] or call 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6456.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.

    About the Author

  • Mickey Noah