By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MANDEVILLE – Tears rolled down the face of Ethel Jenkins as she gazed at students repairing the roof of her Mandeville home.
The crew of 15 students and adults from World Changers modeled Christ’s love by painting, mowing the lawn and remodeling Jenkins’ home during the final week of June.
“These young people just bring tears to my eyes every time I look at them,” said Jenkins. “Seeing them come and work on my home is something I never dreamed would ever happen to me. I thank God for using them to touch my life.”
Jenkins’ home was one of 14 substandard houses improved by 207 students and adults from nine churches in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The group worked June 25-29 on sites in 11 communities throughout the Northshore. Away from the worksites, the students and adults camped in the Sunday school classrooms and worshipped in the youth building at First Baptist Church in Covington.
The students shared the Gospel with 26 people during prayer walks around the community that prompted one statement of belief, one act of repentance and 22 requests for prayer.
Madison Cleveland, project director for the Northshore, said World Changers allowed the students to get out of their comfort zone for a week and share the Gospel with homeowners and others from the community.
“When people pass by the homes, they see the students on the sites and become curious,” Cleveland said. “And when we prayer walk, it sometimes will open the door to a conversation about Christ. It’s just extraordinary that a group of students would give up a week at the beach or amusement park to come to serve others.”
Founded in 1990, World Changers, formerly a ministry of the North American Mission Board, and now a pre-packaged missions experienced managed by LifeWay Christian Resources, is manned mostly by students who donate a week of their time to help rehabilitate some of the poorer neighborhoods in America – at no charge to the homeowner. Students pay between $280 and $375 to participate and local organizations fund most of the construction materials.
The Northshore is one of 54 locations where World Changers will work this summer. While the majority of the projects are construction-based, some include a focus on helping a church plant.
Ken Schroeder, transitional pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hammond and an on-site supervisor for World Changers in the Northshore, said he enjoyed seeing the joy on the face of the homeowners.
“The homeowner and nearby residents take note of the hard work the students are putting into the project,” Schroeder said. “It not only improves the home itself but the students warm many hearts.”
Trinity Rucker painted the outside door of Jenkins’ storage shed June 28. She explained while some of her classmates were enjoying other activities such as a trip to the beach or excursion to an amusement park, this was the highlight of her summer.
“Jesus told us to go and serve others,” said Rucker, a member of Westwood Baptist Church in Weaver, Alabama. “That’s what we were sent here for this week, so we could serve this sweet homeowner and make an impact for Christ.”
Laurin Cobb, who assisted Rucker, nodded in agreement.
“I love meeting new people and planting seeds,” said Cobb, a member of First Baptist Church in Dresden, Tennessee. “We are here this week to make Christ known to people who don’t have a relationship with Him.”
About 20 yards away, Mason Terry removed nails before painting siding on the house. He hopes to use what he learned on the Northshore to help others in his own hometown of Madonna, Tennessee.
“There’s such a good vibe here this week among all the new friends I’ve met,” said Terry, a member of Friendship Baptist Church in Madonna. “People like myself are able to get out of our comfort zone and achieve a higher purpose. For someone like me who isn’t skilled in house repair work, this allows me to jump out of the boat to share Christ with non-believers