Local Baptist Youths Rebuild Houses, Spirits In Alabama
CRAWFORD — While on a mission to share the message of Jesus Christ, five Shiloh Baptist Church youths and their youth minister from the Crawford area travelled to northern Alabama to repair houses from July 10-17.
The youths who participated, Brent Kimbrough, Garett Bowdoin, Nicole Musser, Kassidy Harper, Jeremy Tillery, and Michael Prim, interacted with 27 work crews comprised of about 300 youths from six southern states to fix low income neighborhoods of Anniston and Oxford, Ala.
With skilled crew leaders ready to fill in the knowledge gaps, each of the Shiloh youths brought their own construction experience to Alabama—even their youth minister Chad Bertrand, 23, got in on the action, experiencing shingles sticking to his shoes as he learned how to roof.
“On the roof in the middle of the day got really hot,” said Bertrand, a seminary student at Truett Seminary at Baylor University. “You had to be careful of where you were stepping.”
Although the members of the youth group had performed mission trips and rebuilt houses before, this was the first time members participated in World Changers, a youth-geared mission organization sponsored by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Bertrand said that this trip was also special because youths had the chance to participate in a mission outside of Texas—12 hours away, just “barely still in the Central Time Zone.”
“I wanted to get them away from home. It helps them ... focus on what you’re doing,” he said.
Bertrand said that based on his own personal experience when he was a middle school student working with the organization, he suggested the Shiloh youths volunteer with World Changers.
“The reason we’re doing it is because God is so important in our lives that we want to share his love with other people, and this is one way we can do that,” he said.
World Changers takes applications from city governments across the country with neighborhoods with substandard housing. In exchange for the free labor provided by World Changers, the city authorities coordinate the materials, lodging, and selected house. Volunteers work in eight one-week shifts starting in early June.
In a video created by World Changers of the week the Shiloh Baptist Church youths were in Alabama, a man responded to the repairs on his house: “It’s a blessing that these young people would like to do something like this. There are so many other things they could be doing. It is highly appreciated what they are doing.”
This year, Shiloh Baptist Church paid the way for each of the five youths, seeing the opportunity for the high school-and college-aged students “to learn the joy of helping people.”
“That was a blessing that the church gave these kids. That was nice,” said Bertrand.
The youths’ week was almost nonstop busy. All the volunteers awoke up at 6:15 a.m. for breakfast, and were at their repair sites by 7 a.m. Work ended by 4 p.m., so the youths could relax before dinner, a special devotion service, and bedtime which was usually at 11 p.m.
“They were pretty worn out after a long day. This is the one time that it’s not hard to get kids to bed,” said Bertrand. The Shiloh youths stayed at Oxford Middle School, and their lunches were donated by local churches.
Although the work was, well, work, the Shiloh youths didn’t seem to mind and in fact enjoyed it.
The general consensus of the youths was that they wanted to continue to share his faith with people more after the trip as well as work on more service projects.
Even before the youth group went to Alabama, it participated in a project with Mission Waco by “painting and scraping” a house for two days. Bertrand said that within the next week, the youth group would give him feedback on how to make its mission trips better.
During their cross-country travels, the youngsters took their time to see the sights. Not only did they visit the tallest point in Alabama but they also experienced the world’s second largest chair which stands two stories high located in Anniston, pop. 24,276 (2000 U.S. Census).
“Kassie and Nicole hadn’t seen it so we had to drive by it before we left town just so they could see it,” said Bertrand. “It was the world’s largest metal chair, but somebody built a bigger one. That was greatly amusing to all of us.”
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