Franklin, North Carolina
July 19-24, 2010
World Changers celebrate 20 years making a difference
Thursday, 22 July 2010
By Christopher Carpenter
This week, a group of students from around the country have come to Macon County looking to change the world. Known as World Changers, 270 students are in Franklin from July 19 to 24 working on a variety of assignments ranging from house painting to roofing and laying shingles to building access ramps and porches.
Established in 1990, this year marks the 20th anniversary for the youth mission founded by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This summer 97 World Changers projects are taking place in more than 85 American cities. From Alaska to Florida, New York to California, and many places in between, the World Changers have been working to help communities across North America to alleviate substandard housing.
For Jesse Engroos, 16, of Columbia, S.C., this will be the second year he has participated in the summer youth mission since his pastor suggested he get involved.
“It was the most amazing experience I’d ever had in my life,” said Engroos. Last year he helped to host a project in his own home town, but he was glad to be able to participate again this year in Franklin. “It’s a lot more fun to travel,” he said. This week, Engroos is helping to replace a roof on a home on Carvil Road.
On average, students pay $250 to take part in a World Changers project. This summer more than 23,000 students have paid money out of their own pockets to help improve living conditions for people in the communities they visit.
Following a six-session “how-to” workshop that participants complete prior to coming, students serving Franklin hit the ground running, and on Tuesday the major work began. The students are all staying at Macon Middle School for the week, where breakfast is being provided by Macon County Public Schools and lunches by the Macon Baptist Association. Other partners in the initiative include the Macon County Housing Agency and various local businesses. After an early breakfast, they leave for the work sites at 7 a.m. and come back at around 4 p.m. when they have a little free time at the school before dinner.
“Our partnerships are the key to the past 20 years,” said John Bailey. “Relationships with cities and churches have provided an avenue for students to make a difference in communities across North America.” Bailey is the team leader for the World Changers project in Franklin.
For Kelly Smith of Woodruff, S.C., one of the many church organizers accompanying students this week, this will be the 10th time she has participated in a World Changers project. She visited Franklin for the first time in 2002 on a project, and this year she brought 12 students from her church’s youth group.
The best part of the experience for her is “to see my kids grow and give them a new experience,” Smith said. “They come here to work and help people, but they get the blessings times ten—plus life skills and new friends.”
Andrew Shull, also from Woodruff, said this is his 13th year. “It’s exciting to see the way the Lord works in people’s lives,” Shull said. “Kids see that they can make a difference, and that’s really important.”
Nathan Faulk of Sanford, N.C., is the crew supervisor on Carvil Road this week. This year he brought his daughters, Morgan, 20, and Meghan, 25. “I come for the kids,” Faulk said. “There’s just something about getting to meet young people from all over, other states and town. And I love Franklin.”
And Franklin loves the World Changers. Ronnie Beale, chairman of the Macon County Board of Commissioners, has nothing but praise for the students. “They are doing fantastic work,” he said.
“These kids are such a benefit to people in this county. They’re just amazing.”
Since 1990, more than 280,000 World Changers students have renovated more than 20,000 homes in nearly 900 communities.
First Baptist World Changer History:
2011 - Nashville, Tennessee
2010 - Franklin, North Carolina
2009 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2008 - Cherokee, North Carolina
2007 - Chesapeake, Virginia
2006 - Lenoir City, Tennessee
2005 - Chicago, Illinois
2004 - Savannah, Georgia
2003 - Pikeville, Kentucky
2002 - Franklin, North Carolina
(2001 - Charleston Outreach - Charleston, South Carolina)
(2000 - Charleston Outreach, Charleston, South Carolina)
1999 - Anniston, Alabama
1998 - Kingsport, Tennessee
1997 - Charleston, West Virginia
1996 - Danville, Virginia