News Articles

World Changers under way with 22,000 volunteers in 87 cities

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The immediate goals of the North American Mission Board’s World Changers are to rehabilitate sub-standard homes and improve neighborhoods in 87 cities this summer.

The ultimate goals are to transform the lives of students and win people to Christ.

Now in its 17th summer of service projects, the 2006 edition of World Changers is in full swing, with 22,000 youth volunteers committed to 92 projects across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, according to John W. Bailey, World Changers’ coordinator for NAMB.

Created in 1990, World Changers is a pre-packaged mission experience sponsored by NAMB, enabling students -– middle school-aged to college-aged –- to donate part of their summer to rehabilitate sub-standard housing.

At the same time the students are spending a precious week of their summer vacation hammering nails, painting walls or re-roofing houses, they’re also developing their mission skills, growing in their faith and sharing the Gospel, Bailey said.

2006 World Changers efforts also include 16 non-construction community projects across the country, including Bible clubs for local kids, surveys for local churches, food and clothing programs for the needy, and sports and handicapped ministries.

“The reason World Changers has been so successful over 17 years -– and the reason God has blessed it –- is because we have been laser-focused on trying to transform the lives of students,” Bailey said. “This is the only way to change the world -– to challenge the kids to go beyond their comfort zones, cross barriers and make a difference.

“Whether it’s using a paint brush or teaching children the Bible, they are out in 87 communities, sharing their faith and making a difference. When you mobilize people, give them a big vision and turn them loose, they always rise to the occasion.”

“Hundreds of people will come to know Christ because of this effort.”

The re-hab and construction projects generally last seven days. All student volunteers pay a fee to cover meals and lodging. Once the students arrive at their assigned location, a designated crew chief –- some professional builders, others merely “weekend” carpenters –- supervises their intense week of work.

“We couldn’t do World Changers without the 1,200 men and women from all over the country who volunteer as crew chiefs to oversee and train the young people,” Bailey said. “They are some very talented and solid folks.”

Bailey believes that last fall’s series of hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast has had a direct impact on World Changers. This year’s World Changers campaign has recorded one of its top years ever for volunteerism.

“Since we kicked off earlier this month, we’re getting some good early reports from the projects in Alaska, Puerto Rico and Canada,” he said. “We’ve also got several new cities participating this year, like Little Rock, Ark., Tulsa, Okla., Buffalo, N.Y., and Gallup, N.M.”

While most World Changer projects around the country require only 250-300 young people, a larger World Changer initiative -– called an “XL Project” -– is coming up in Norfolk, Va., where over 900 youths will work on local construction or community projects.

“In Virginia, these 900 kids will be working all over the Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake areas,” Bailey said, “with a goal of completing 80-90 home rehabs.”

Each night -– after another grueling work-day in Virginia’s summer heat — all 900 will converge on Virginia Beach’s London Bridge Baptist Church for worship services featuring the Jami Smith Praise Band and David Nasser, a youth evangelist.

And right after World Changers 2006 winds down on Aug. 5, Bailey said his NAMB group will evaluate and then start immediate planning for 2007.

    About the Author

  • Mickey Noah