AMBERG — The love of Christ is more than a word; it's action that ministers to the needy through the hands of Christians, according to the World Changers working to repair homes of people in need in Bamberg and Barnwell counties this week.
The hot, Southern sun is scorching; the mosquitoes are biting almost constantly. But Lindsey Hardee of Orlando, Fla., works on the roof of Tim Still's house in Bamberg and said it's a joy because she's helping someone; she's representing Jesus.
Nobody's paying her or any of the other young people working with World Changers. In fact, they had to pay $260 to come and spend a backbreaking week.
And like many of the other teenagers, Hardee, a high school sophomore on her second world-changing project, had to work a lot of hours to earn that $260.
"I actually couldn't afford it, so I did a lot of fund-raising," she said. "We (Eastpoint Fellowship Church) also have a Rent-A-Teen program. We go to someone's house and work for a day, and they pay us for the day."
World Changers give a lot of themselves as they help the community, but they get as much as they receive, Hardee said.
"It gets really tiring, and you always want to complain about how hot it is and the mosquito bites and everything, but then you think about how rewarding it is ¦. looking at it when you finish gives you a feeling of accomplishment you can't really describe," she said. "It's most definitely worth the trip."
But it's a lot more than just the wonderful feeling you get when the job's finished, she said. It's also about the people you meet and the frie-ips you form.
"Open Doors Church gives us lunch every day," Hardee said. "They've welcomed us with open arms, and they're so loving toward us."
Crew Chief Joshua Simmons, who lived in Smoaks as a small child, can vouch for the value of making long-term relationships.
"I've been going on these trips since I was 14," he said. "I think this is my 12th trip. My wife and I met six years ago on a trip to Puerto Rico just like this one."
Simmons and his wife are now youth ministers at Canton Baptist Church in Canton, N.C. They're still making trips with World Changers, but now they're traveling together, taking a group of their church kids with them, Simmons said.
"We love it; our kids love it," he said. "They get to come and do work, to minister to whoever's house we're at, to neighbors, to the churches that feed us lunch — they're (the churches) so good to us. It's a great thing all round," he said.
Chris Hagans is part of the roofing team working on Tim Still's house. He's always known it was the right thing to help people, he said.
"Doing it in Jesus' name just enhances the way a mission trip can help the homeowner. I've always felt the call to come on these trips," said Hagans, a sophomore at Carson-Newman College.
Tim Still said he appreciates the job the World Changers are doing on his house.
"I've loved having these kids come and help me out," he said. "They're doing a great job, and they're doing it fast."
The Bamberg-Barnwell World Changers project was a youth program, but the young folks didn't come alone. Among the more mature members of the group were Faith Kienast and Allyson Strickland from Cherry Grove Baptist Church in Cerro Gordo, N.C.
Kienast said she and her husband take turns going on World Changers trips. This year it was his turn to stay home with their three children, she said.
Strickland, who is the "grounds" member of the roofing team, also helps out wherever she's needed.
"I pick up what they (the roofing team) drop," she said. "I've already raked the back, and now I'm glazing the windows."
Strickland said she loves World Changers and finds the trips relaxing.
Two hundred people are participating in the Bamberg-Barnwell project, according to Paris Gorhan, mission's communications specialist for the Southeast Team of World Changers. It's a youth project with groups from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, she said.
"They're really excited about being out here, sharing the love of Christ and also preparing a home for somebody who's in need basically due to the economic times," Gorhan said. "They're willing to help and even if they don't know this person."
These kids are just part of the national and worldwide World Changers, a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, she said. Gorhan said there are 23,000 participants and 100 locations of World Changers in the United States and 28 locations internationally.