When the World Changers crew in Jackson, Mississippi, arrived on Monday morning at their worksite to start roofing a home, their materials had not yet arrived. But with World Changers, the unexpected doesn't always mean that God isn't working.
Rather than just sitting and waiting, the teens went to a nearby YMCA and discovered multiple opportunities for making a difference. Through the relationships they formed, by the end of the week forty children had received Christ.
While that incident was unusual, the principles it illustrates are at the heart of World Changers, which this summer involved 23,672 students and adults in eighty-seven projects in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. While serving at 1,674 separate construction sites and 154 ministry sites, students also saw 1,298 individuals make professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
World Changers is a pre-packaged mission experience sponsored by the North American Mission Board that allows students to donate their time to rehabilitate substandard housing while also developing missions skills and growing in their faith. Many projects also include ministry efforts such as Vacation Bible Schools.
John Bailey, student volunteer mobilization manager for NAMB, said the report from Jackson is just one of many inspiring stories that have emerged from the fourteenth year of World Changers.
In Thompsonville, Illinois, students working with First Baptist Church saw nine individuals make professions of faith — and all nine were present in church the following Sunday. "They actually tied our mission work into First Baptist Church of Thomasville," Bailey said. "So that's an example of their effectiveness in being a witness to the family and tying it into the local church."
In Miami, one student came up with the idea of using a lemonade stand as an evangelistic opportunity. "From what I can tell, from that one little ministry site there in Miami they were able to distribute 300 Bibles and present the gospel to about 150 folks. About fifteen prayed to receive Christ, including one man who learned of Christ after asking one of the students why she was painting a sign.
In Birmingham, about 1,500 students participated in a World Changers project sponsored by the Alabama Baptist Convention, which along with North Carolina and Georgia spearheaded twenty-two of the eighty-seven projects. The rest of the projects were conducted by NAMB.
A project in Port Nikiski, Alaska, prompted an outpouring of generosity for a local community coordinator who himself was in need of help. When students learned he did not have indoor running water in his one-room home, they pitched in to raise money for a water pump and other needed materials.
"He fell in love with World Changers because of what they did, and he said, 'If there is ever anything I can do to help you let me know,'" Bailey said. When local churches heard of the incident, they suggested he help them by serving as a crew chief on another World Changers project — and they paid his expenses to do so three weeks later.
For next year, Bailey said plans call for ninety-six projects — including nine new cities. One of the flagship projects will be in New York City, which will be the focus of other missions efforts next year through NAMB's Strategic Focus Cities initiative.
World Changers also will be working with NAMB's Next Level Leadership Network to sponsor The Impact Zone, in which college students participating in a World Changers project in Wheaton, Illinois, also will receive leadership training.
"They're going to learn to be a servant leader during the day, and at night they're going to learn how to be a better leader in other ways," Bailey said. "It's a whole new paradigm for World Changers and training leaders."
For more information about World Changers and their future scheduled projects, visit www.studentz.com/wc.