Youth are changing the world - and North Carolina
June 21 2002 by Derek Hodges , BR Intern

Youth are changing the world - and North Carolina | Friday, June 21, 2002

Friday, June 21, 2002

Youth are changing the world - and North Carolina

By Derek Hodges BR Intern

It is time once again time for summer break, and that means teenagers across the nation are packing their bags for summer vacations. For many that means the usual swimsuits and short sleeves. However, if you check the suitcases of some young people "vacationing" in North Carolina, you would find that, in with their summer fun gear, they are packing hammers, nails and paint brushes.

Many of these youth are part of the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) "World Changers" summer missions programs, a huge national effort to get more youth more actively involved in "kingdom work." While on a World Changers project, the youth don't just spend time renovating sub-standard housing, they also take time to minister to the spiritual needs of the homeowners, their teammates and anyone else who happens to stop by.

More than 400 youth arrived in Raleigh by bus and van the week of June15-22 to begin work in one of four North Carolina projects. The students were expected to raise living standards in 44 houses in one week alone.

Participants included youth from churches in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Those groups were divided by World Changers staff into crews with names like the "Toe Nails" and "Scrape, Splatter and Roll." Some ended up in groups with other members of their youth groups, some did not.

Braving mid-June North Carolina heat and humidity, the students went into the mission field with smiles on their faces and hammers and paint brushes in their hands. And, while none of them would say the work they did wasn't a challenge (some of them even had to overcome a fear of heights as they climbed around on the tops of two story homes), they did manage to hold on to their smiles throughout the week.

Sunny Musgrave, a chaperone from Hendersonville Baptist Church near Walterboro, S.C., served as her team's "Crew Encourager." She said she was "amazed" at how the youth kept on smiling through some tough work. "These kids are doing work that grown men get paid to do, and they're doing it because they love God," she said.

Musgrave added that the students were living out what Christians were called to do, saying, "A lot of times we Christians talk about service ... we're trying to teach these kids what it means to be slaves for Christ."

If these youth don't enjoy this work, they hide it well. Patrick McCaskill, a youth from Bethune Baptist Church in Bethune, S.C. said, "It has been awesome. I've never really done anything like it. This was my first time doing this. It definitely won't be my last. God really touched my life this week."

This was 13-year-old Catherine Carmichael's second year serving as a "slave for Christ." Carmichael, a youth from Walterboro First Baptist Church, described the entire experience in two words, "very rewarding." Being separated from their youth groups gives students a chance to interact with other Christian youth. "I had a lot of fun with my crew," Carmichael said.

Carmichael and her crew spent the week working on the roof of a home. They first stripped the old shingles, then added roofing felt and were scheduled to finish up Friday with new shingles, despite the threat of rain. Site supervisor Wayne Lake said he and the crew prayed that there would be no rain to hamper their work. And, Lake added, "God does answer prayers."

Rainy Friday forecasts for the Raleigh area quickly gave way to nothing but sunny skies.

Lake says the best part of the World Changers projects, which he started working on as a way to give back to God, is getting to meet all the inspirational youth from different parts of the nation. "People say this next generation is 'no good,' they need to come around these projects. They (the youth) sacrificed a week of their summer vacation to come out here and work and sweat," he said.

Obviously, the participants aren't the only ones who get something out of the week of service and fellowship. Homeowners like James and Cynthia Wilcox, who are called partners by the World Changers, also appreciate the work. The Wilcox' house got a new coat of paint inside and outside, new doors, ceilings and light fixtures were repaired and the bathroom saw some needed repairs.

"I love it. It's a blessing," Cynthia said, "It made a whole lot of difference, it's like a whole new house!"

Perhaps one of the most important parts of the week comes in the evenings, when the more than 400 participants gather in the gym at Fuquay-Varina High School for a worship service. The week's featured speaker was Steve Brown of Walterboro First Baptist Church. Thursday night's service included a live praise band, a video message from someone touched by World Changers, a message from Brown in which he challenged the students to "soar free," and an altar call that brought students from all over the room to pray.

Several participants named the worship services and the church group devotions that follow them as their most memorable part of the week. "The worship services are great," Carmichael said.

Jesse Freeman, co-leader of youth at Bethune Baptist Church, agreed that the community worship was his favorite part of the week. "Listening to these youth tell me what they've gotten out of it, that's been the best part," Freeman said, right after Thursday night's church group devotion.

Last year represented the first year that a State World Changers project was completed. For the 11 years prior to that World Changers had been a purely national mission, operated for the last five of those years as a ministry of the NAMB.

The first State World Changers was a project of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The youth in that first state-affiliated program did recovery work after Hurricane Floyd left many homes in the Eastern part of the state well below standard.

This year, the three participating states will operate 20 projects in 13 cities. Four of those 20 will take youth into three North Carolina cities to do work. More than 1,300 students are expected to participate in this year's state-affiliated projects in North Carolina, with nearly 25,000 expected to help nationally in all World Changers projects.

Work began the week of June 15-22 in Raleigh and Franklin and continued into the week of June 22-29 in Raleigh. Students in those two cities are doing construction-type work, spending their week renovating homes. The week of July 13-20 youth in Murphy will participate in a community project that will involve construction and other types of ministry projects, such as Backyard Bible Clubs.

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6/21/2002 12:00:00 AM by Derek Hodges , BR Intern | with 0 comments
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