Billy Griffin, left, helps supervise Austin May with the saw as part of World Changers at a house in Sugar Hill on Thursday. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
SUGAR HILL — More than 16,000 students across the nation got out from behind their electronics and decided to make a difference this summer. Some of them are spending this week in Sugar Hill, where they’ve helped locals with everything from yard work to construction work.
The youth are part of World Changers, which this summer has placed students in 60 cities throughout the country. World Changers is a ministry of Lifeway Christian Resources and its goal is to offer youth mission trips to Southern Baptists and other evangelical churches.
“It’s a summer program where the kids show the love of Christ in the community,” said Lauren Hicks, a missions and communications specialist for World Changers. “We’re teaching these kids how to be selfless and to serve.”
That showed in Sugar Hill, where 151 students are participating in a weeklong mission project at 11 different work sites. Among the jobs they’ve been doing are painting, landscaping and other meaningful tasks.
At one of the work sites, the students (along with adult volunteers) resided a chimney, built a deck and painted. Those not specifically working on the house walked around the neighborhoods and evangelized.
“Everyone needs to be put out of their comfort zone,” Hicks said. “There’s so much they can do in the community.”
Hicks said students pay their own way to participate, about $250 per person on average. They stay in local churches or schools and there is one adult mentor for every five kids who participate.
Levi Worley is participating for the second year in a row and said the program has taught him a lot about his faith.
“I live out in the country in Opp, Ala.,” he said. “The Bible teaches us to be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8). This is my Samaria.
“Not only have I been able to help these people, but I’m growing in my faith. God is showing me what I need to focus on and showing me how to be more bold in sharing my faith.”
Madison Earp, from Guntersville, Ala., is in her third year of participating in missions with World Changers. She said interacting with others makes this particular kind of mission work gratifying.
“I love being able to help with the physical and spiritual needs of families,” she said. “With this family, the mom works during the day and we’ve gotten to hang out with the kids. That’s one of the best parts about any mission work you do, being able to meet the family.”
While both Worley and Earp said it can be tiresome working all day and getting little rest, they said it makes them lean on God even more to give them the strength each day.
“When you have long days and short nights, all you can do is rely on him,” Earp said.
The project wraps today and the youth will head home on Saturday with memories of a week meeting new people and helping folks in need.
“Most of all, it’s about sharing the love of Christ,” Worley said. “That’s why we’re here.”