This week, approximately 100 middle and high school youth and adult volunteers from three different states and four churches traveled to Douglas County for the first time on a mission trip to repair houses in the community.
According to Kaitlyn Sirmons, southeast summer team leader for World Changers, said teams of youths and adult volunteers would be spreading out over the county to give service to strangers in need, while demonstrating their faith in action during their week here.
The faith-based organization's website puts the mission in simple terms: "Gospel-sharing — what we do; Construction — How we do it."
The week started Saturday, July 8 as the youths and adults accompanying them arrived at Central Baptist Church, kicked off by a welcome celebration and a worship gathering.
Monday morning was their first day on the work site, with crews completing such tasks a putting on a new roof, replacing vinyl siding on a two-story house, painting, doing demolition work at a park and even spreading mulch on the campus of Douglas County High School.
The volunteers weren’t just spreading mulch, however. Their tireless efforts were spreading God’s love to people who needed a helping hand in the community. And they had fun in the process.
"The work being put in not only transforms the houses," said blogger Lauren Carroll, "but it can also transform the lives of the homeowners.
The group is being hosted and housed by Central Baptist Church, but many other churches in the county are pitching in to make sure the volunteers receive meals during their stay, said Sirmons.
“It’s a community effort,” she said. “A lot of churches do things like bring up lunches, including Ephesus Baptist Church and several others.”
Sirmons said working in this city is a way to demonstrate that teens can get out of their comfort zone, work hard and help others.
Youths and adults going on the mission have to pay their own way to participate in this exercise of giving back in a community unknown to them. They also empty their own pockets during nightly worship to raise funds in the North American Missions Board’s “Send Relief” program.
The youths surpassed a goal of $800 to raise $956 to go to providing backpacks filled with items that not only meet physical needs, but also spiritual needs, according to a World Changers daily blog covering the youths' activities in Douglasville.
“Students traveling with their churches and youth groups pay an average of $310 for check in as well as their travel to take part in this week where they work on a variety of projects throughout the community,” said Sirmons.
She laughed, “The kids pay $310 to sleep on air mattresses.”
Church youth groups came to Douglasville as part of World Changers from as far away as South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana, making up eight crews at eight different locations. The organization works closely with the West Metro Baptist Association.
World Changers itself is part of an initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Funding for the projects come from the city of Douglasville to buy supplies to revitalize substandard housing, said Sirmons.
The teams in Douglasville were given such outrageous names as “Paint Chips,” “Knot Heads,” “Dumpsters” and ‘Dirty, Dusty, Downright Determined.” And dirty, paint-covered and dusty they were – all in the name of Jesus.
The youths and their team leaders tweeted and texted and blogged and Instagramed and received E-Couragrams during their stay in Douglasville. Thursday was the World Changers last day on the job and each crew took a World Changers "Labor Provided By" sign, a Bible and a picture of their crew to the homeowner they helped out during the week,
One team, the Lumber Rumblers, was found hard at work this week, cheerfully doing painting and repairs at the home of a retired minister and his wife, Roy and Linda Cummings, who attend Westview Baptist Church in Douglasville.
The couple, who will celebrate 60 years of marriage in August, moved into their “fixer upper” home off Highway 5 three years ago. Roy suffers from congestive heart failure and is legally blind. Linda suffers from Meniere’s disease — an inner ear disorder.
Two years ago, a team of local youths from local United Methodist Churches through the Rivers of Life program built a wheelchair ramp for the couple. More work was needed, however.
“God is good,” said Linda. “We are highly favored and blessed.”
Following the path of pastor and pastor’s wife in Jupiter, Florida for many years, the Cummings settled in Bowdon. Then they moved to Douglasville to be near their son.
The couple once provided outreach beyond their church doors with programs for senior citizens, affordable day care for indigent mothers and even ran a skating rink, which after skating was over they “sat down to hear the Gospel,” Linda said.
This week, the Cummings reaped the benefit of help from which they had sowed to countless others during their many years in the ministry.
“This is what church should be,” said Linda. “It should have many arms doing many things. It should be an outreach for the community.”