World Changers Student Volunteers Repair Homes, Plant Churches, Deliver Meals in Chattanooga

Ten years ago, a World Changers crews repaired the roof on Doris Smith’s (pink shirt) Chattanooga home. This summer a World Changers crew returned to Smith’s home and built new stair rails leading to her front porch and made other minor repairs to her home.
Photo by Megan Conley

The sound of hammers radiated down North Chamberlain Avenue in Chattanooga, Tenn. Every few minutes, shingles were tossed off one side of the roof, and new shingles were lined up on the other. Even though this particular July morning had barely begun, the sun was already radiating off the hot tar paper. But that didn’t slow down the group of World Changers volunteers working on Priscilla Ford’s roof.

“[These students] are dedicated, and they are mindful of helping low-income and underprivileged people do repairs on their home they can’t do for themselves,” said Ford, whose home was in need of a new roof.

This is the attitude of thousands of students across the United States who volunteered to serve this summer with World Changers, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources. World Changers provides construction, church planting and urban missions experiences for youth groups by giving them the opportunity to serve for a week in communities across the country, including Chattanooga.

More than 500 students from 28 churches served at back-to-back World Changers projects in Chattanooga, July 7-14 and July 16-21, repairing 49 homes. Throughout the summer, World Changers hosted projects in 20 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Students pay between $280-$375 to attend a World Changers project and typically sleep on air mattresses or cots in empty rooms of local schools or churches. In Chattanooga, Brainerd Baptist Church hosted the teams.

For Chattanooga homeowner Doris Smith, the work of World Changers has impacted her life once before. Ten years ago, a World Changers crew put a new roof on the home she shared with her mother.

This summer, during the second week of projects in Chattanooga, a World Changers crew returned to provide new repairs to Smith’s home.

Smith said the presence of the World Changers students also uplifted her spirits, since most of her family lives out of state.

When the groups are finished with their work each day, they return to the church, eat dinner and attend an evening gathering. Each evening has a different emphasis, from learning about the host city and its particular needs to diving into Scripture and having discussions about the Gospel and what it means to live on mission.

A unique addition to the World Changers evening schedule this year was the introduction of R&R night — an opportunity for church groups to come together and enjoy an evening of fellowship. This night is planned by the local coordinator for each project and takes on a different experience in each city.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Megan Conley