- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - The group of young people repairing homes in and around Owensboro this week are driven by a single passion - sharing God’s love.

They call themselves World Changers, and the work of 257 youth group students in Owensboro joins sites in 49 other U.S. cities this year, as part of the LifeWay Christian Resources mission.

World Changers visit homes in many cities across the country to perform basic repair services like painting, building ramps or installing sliding, at no cost to the homeowner. This is the ninth year that Owensboro has hosted the World Changers and their work is paid for by a community development grant to which homeowners could apply. There are 22 crews at about 22 worksites in and around the city, says communication specialist Brittany Falls.

She said the mission gives both students and adults a venue to put their faith to action and spread a message that is focused on helping others.

For Owensboro resident Donna Stinnett, that message came in loud and clear. She said she has been trying to find the money to make repairs to her leaky roof for several years now. She prayed for a miracle, and after she read about the World Changers in the newspaper and applied for the grant, she said that miracle came. When a passing thunderstorm brought with it some heavy rains Wednesday afternoon, one thing was missing from the back rooms in her home - pails and buckets to collect water. The new roof isn’t done yet, and World Changers crews are still on site, but Stinnett said the blessing has been amazing.

“When I got the word that they were going to be able to help me, I can’t describe the joy I felt,” she said, with tears rolling down her face. “Everybody has been so great. To have been needing it done for so long, and to think that these young kids take a week out of their summers to help is such a wonderful thing.”

Lizzie Harp, 18, a World Changers volunteer from Muncie, Indiana, has been with the program for four years now. She began when the organization first came to her town. The blessing, she said, was personal and life-changing, and she has stuck with it since.

“It opened my eyes up,” she said. “I want to share God’s love with other people. Having the opportunity to go out and help out both in my hometown and in other places is a blessing. It takes a toll on your heart sometimes to see bad things happen to people, but this is my way to help fix it.”

Austin Weathers was only 16 when he first starting giving up a week of his summer to the World Changers organization. It took the compassion he saw from the young people around him and the generosity of a woman in one city to lead him to give his life to God, he said. Now he is 27 and a youth minister in Florence, Alabama. World Changers does amazing work for people around the country, he said, but it did something so much greater for his own heart.

“I accepted Christ on my first World Changers trip,” he said. “He has radically changed my life since. I believe that faith without works is dead. This is a good way for teenagers to put their faith to work - to get out there and love communities.”

Austen Serrata is a 18-year-old volunteer from Tilden, Texas. He is not one to talk much, he said, but he likes to show is faith through the work he does.

“I give 110 percent on every project I do,” he said. “It’s such a blessing to see how our work affects the people in the places we go.”

World Changers teenagers and young adults will be in Owensboro until Saturday. Each of them donated about $250 and gave up a week out of their summers to the project in order to participate. Falls called it a monumental sacrifice for young people and a huge help for families in need.


Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, https://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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