ALPHARETTA, Ga. Over 23,672 students and adults in 87 projects in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico gathered to serve at 1,674 separate construction sites and 154 ministry sites under the ministries of the World Changers Missions Initiative.
Sponsored by the North American Mission Board, World Changers rehabilitates substandard housing while providing hands-on missions skills. This summer alone 1,298 individuals made professions of faith in Jesus Christ through World Missions ministry. Among them, 40 had come from the missions work of the World Changers crew in Jackson Miss.
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 14th year of World Changers.
Other reports includes an incident in Thompsonville, Ill., where 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 15 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 22 of the 87 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.
Bailey said plans call for 96 projects - including nine new cities just in 2004. One of the flagship projects will be in New York City, which will be the focus of other missions efforts next year through the 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, Ill., 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."