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"Churches Changing Communities" Doing God's Work

By: Anne Waits
web posted August 8, 2013

GUEST COLUMN – Acts 1:8: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost shall come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." During the week of July 15-19, volunteers (114 in all) from churches within the Edgefield Baptist Association took to the communities in and around Edgefield to do just that--to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was the fourth year for "Churches Changing Communities," a program that was begun under the direction of the Baptist Association's director of missions, Dr. Robert Williamson. It takes place each year during the third week in July. Members from every church in the Edgefield Baptist Association participate in some way or another, whether it is doing actual physical labor (the program has participants go in teams to houses to do needed repairs and small building projects) or through donations, prayers, help in providing meals for the workers or in some other way. In addition to this program, the Men's Ministry (formerly Brotherhood) works year-round with projects that primarily involve building handicapped ramps.

During the week of "Churches Changing Communities," workers fall into three classifications--adults (one construction coordinator is 80); youth (grades 8-12); and families (some parents prefer their children work with them as a family). Each team has a crew leader and each is supervised by a construction coordinator. The five construction coordinators determine which projects will be done, get the materials, recommend the size of the crews, and estimate the number of days for each project. There were 32 projects this year and work sites ranged from North Augusta to Kirksey (lower Greenwood County), and from Trenton to Parksville and McCormick. Lots of travel time was involved.

Adults and families go home at night, but youth and chaperones are allowed to stay overnight at the host church. This year, that church was Antioch Baptist. Special worship services and devotional times are held for the youth. "CCC, as well as our other local missions projects, is based on Acts 1:8," said Jackie Ridings, ministry assistant for the Edgefield Baptist Association. "Local missions is our Jerusalem."

I first became acquainted with CCC in the summer of 2012 when I, as a staff writer for The Citizen News, interviewed Dr. Williamson and others and wrote a story about the program for the paper. Little did I realize that I would become an actual recipient of their services even though I grew up in one of the participating churches and I am quite familiar with many of the churches and their members.

In April of this year, I was informed by my homeowners company that I would have to have my rear deck replaced as well as the material around my laundry and storage rooms or my insurance policy would be cancelled. I was given until the end of May to have the work done. I remember thinking it could hardly have come at a worse time, as I struggled with health problems and trying to get a part-time free-lance writing business off the ground.

After hearing estimates of between $2,500 and $3,000 and knowing I could not afford these figures, I called Jackie to inquire if she knew of such a program in Aiken County (I later learned they do not have one). While I was on the phone, she asked if I would like to have my name put on the list and I said, "Why not?" A week or so later I was contacted by Tim Thompson who came and looked at the work to be done and gave me an estimate. I told him that I was unable to have the work done myself and didn't know what I would do otherwise. He said they had a meeting coming up regarding CCC and he would let me know. I wasn't sure if I would be accepted into the program or not, but I just prayed that God's will would be done. On the following Monday I talked with Dr. Williamson who told me they had had their meeting and I had been accepted.

Not only did Mr. Thompson agree to get some papers together for my insurance company explaining that I would not be able to get the work done until July, but he took them by the insurance agency himself. I was asked to purchase the needed materials, but all time and labor would be free of charge.

On the morning of July 17, I looked out to see that workers had arrived to begin work. For the next two and a half days, I watched, often with tears in my eyes, as the team workers for my project labored in the hot July sun, taking only a lunch break, with no thought of any personal gain except for the feeling of helping someone in need. As I said earlier, I was not unaware of their program and what they did--I had just not been on the receiving end before. In this often dog-eat-dog world we live in today, it is rare to find people to do a good job when you are willing to pay for it, leave alone do it with no thought of reward. And with smiling faces besides!

One thing I learned during this week is that those who participate in CCC not only minister to the physical needs of the recipient, but to the emotional and spiritual needs as well. Crew members interact with the homeowners and they become friends. One aspect of the program that I had been unaware of is the Prayer Ministry. During the week, the prayer teams visit each homeowner, as does the director of missions, and talk with them about their particular prayer needs. Association WMU Director Carol Bryan coordinated the prayer teams. This year, adults and a couple of young people visited 19 churches in the association and prayed. They visited each work site and prayed with the work crew and with every homeowner. This aspect had a particular impact on me in view of the health problems I am experiencing.

Also this year, as part of the program, two ministry teams coordinated by Rev. Randy Jackson, youth director for the association, led soccer camps in Edgefield and McCormick. They participated in Bible study and games in the morning. In the afternoon, they visited people in the hospital, nursing home and senior center and did yard work for a number of people in need. Rev. John Noblin, pastor of Plum Branch Baptist Çhurch, was camp pastor and led worship services each evening.

I, for one, would like to say how grateful I am to CCC for what they did. Each time, I look out at my beautiful new deck and the other work, I remind myself that God is good and He knows all our needs. And He uses people like Josh (McClendon, pastor of Philippi Baptist Church in the Ridge Association who was my crew leader), and Garrett, Terry, McKenzi and all the others to accomplish that purpose.

Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Some people still believe we are our brothers' keepers. CCC is proving that!

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