25,000 prep for NAMB summer missions
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--An army of 25,000 student and adult volunteers will mobilize across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in June, when the North American Mission Board's World Changers, PowerPlant and Families on Mission ministries launch for the summer.
Introduced in 1991 and now in its 19th year, World Changers is a pre-packaged mission experience sponsored and managed by NAMB, enabling students to donate a week (Saturday to Saturday) of their summer to help rehabilitate housing in struggling neighborhoods -– at no charge to homeowners.
World Changers -- the largest of the three summer ministries -- will sponsor 92 projects in 85 cities between June 8 and Aug. 1, attracting 23,000 middle school, high school and college students.
World Changers will reach the milestone of renovating its 20,000th house sometime during the summer, said Jonathan Wilson, NAMB's strategy development coordinator for World Changers and PowerPlant.
Several new areas are scheduled, including Daytona Beach, Fla.; San Diego; Franklinton, La.; and Corpus Christi, Texas.
"We're particularly excited about Daytona Beach," Wilson said, noting that First Baptist Church "which has a real heart for reaching their city for Christ, wanted to use World Changers as part of their overall strategy. Daytona is always a popular destination for students, and we'll have 300 students from across the United States working there July 25-Aug. 1."
Each student participating in World Changers or PowerPlant pays an average fee of $260 for most U.S. projects. Fees cover the week's food, lodging, local transportation and program materials. Transportation to the project city is additional.
"We've been holding our collective breaths to see what impact the economy would have on World Changers this summer," Wilson said. "But just a few weeks away from the start of this summer's projects, we've got 25,000 people committed to come to World Changers and PowerPlant.
"It just goes to show that churches and student ministries are still heeding the Acts 1:8 challenge to go and spread the word of Christ and are making missions a priority of their church and ministry," Wilson said. "Sure, we've had a few churches drop out, but we've also seen a lot of churches call and add to their initial registration numbers -- maybe increase from 20 to 30. So, churches remain committed. We work 18 months leading up to these projects and it's neat to see how God is blessing our work."
For PowerPlant, another 2,000 students -- middle school to college-aged -- have signed up for 16 projects this summer. Wilson described PowerPlant as providing students with real-world experience in Southern Baptist church planting and evangelism. First-time PowerPlant cities include Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and Indianapolis.
Minneapolis has one of the lowest number of evangelical churches in the country, Wilson said. "But in Minneapolis on the University of Minnesota campus, we'll have a group of guys who worked in PowerPlant as former students and staff, who are now church planters on campus who'll serve as core leaders for this summer's PowerPlant project up there."
World Changer and PowerPlant students pay their way "to come sleep on the floor, work on someone else's house or work with a church they didn't know existed," Wilson said.
"Yet they do it. They put their money where their faith is in order to make a difference ... and be part of something big. Through their efforts in World Changers and PowerPlant, God's love is going to be communicated to more than 100 communities in North America this summer."
In another first in the history of World Changers and PowerPlant, Wilson noted that both groups will be working in St. Louis at the same time, the week of July 18-25. Some 400 World Changer students will work on renovating and repairing homes in the St. Louis area, while PowerPlant volunteers will be doing church planting. "This happened because of a great partnership we have with the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, [which] has a strategy of involving students," he said.
The last of NAMB's trio of summer ministries is "Families on Mission" (FOM), now in its fourth year. FOM is a pre-packaged week-long mission opportunity for families -- mom and dad, kids and even grandparents.
Some 650 people are registered as families to participate in one of six mission trips: Big Stone Gap, Va., June 6-11; Helen, Ga., June 13-18; Bryson City/Cherokee, N.C., June 20-25; Broken Arrow (Tulsa), Okla., July 4-9; Ruston/Farmerville, La., July 11-16; and Columbiana (Birmingham), Ala., July 18-23.
FOM provides children, their parents and grandparents with a hands-on experience of mission awareness, mission projects, worship, evangelism, family group discussions, and interaction with local missionaries and members of the community.
Susan Peugh, NAMB's coordinator for FOM, said spots are still available for the July mission trips, although the June projects have closed. The cost is $250 per family member participating, which includes food, lodging and local transportation for the week. Transportation to and from the FOM site is the responsibility of the family.
"The typical day for Families on Mission begins with breakfast and then a morning 'celebration' at 8 a.m. at the host church," Peugh said. The celebration includes a children's sermon, evangelism emphasis, mission education and directions for the day.
"From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., we're out at the ministry sites as families," she said. "We'll be doing resort ministry at campgrounds, and helping local church planters identify new people groups in the area through the use of block parties, surveys and backyard Bible clubs." Peugh said families also would be involved in local food and clothing distribution ministries, direct evangelism, ministering to local merchants and light construction projects assisting local residents such as house painting, yard maintenance and minor home repairs.
Following six hours of ministry work in the community, the families will return to their hotels, eat dinner, hold family worship sessions and then enjoy free time the rest of the evening. Each FOM week runs from Saturday to Wednesday.
For more information on World Changers or PowerPlant, access www.world-changers.net or www.power-plant.net; for Families on Mission, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6456.