The World Being Changed in Roanoke

Students wrap up their lunch break with prayer before resuming repair projects in Roanoke.

by Cheryl Hodges

“Welcome to Roanoke!” That is the greeting on the flier from World Changers to their leaders who are in Roanoke guiding groups of students (totaling 230) from 10 different churches in seven different states who have paid their own way to come here this week to work on homes in need of repair.  The week started off with enthusiasm, and from all appearances, there will be no lack of it by week’s end.

For the uninitiated,” World Changers,” an organization of the North American Mission Board, connects church student groups with homes all across the continent in an effort to help homeowners in need with refurbishing their homes and properties, and to give young people the opportunity to “better understand what missions is all about.”  It doesn’t hurt that the kids get to hang out with people their own age, meet friends from other areas of the country and even learn a skill in just a week’s time.

One of the homes chosen for repair in Roanoke is actually condemned, according to Crew Chief Scott Simmon, who is in charge of about a dozen kids. The hope is that it will be saved for the 78 year old owner, “who was three years old when she moved in with her family. She lost her parents, her husband and her children while there; she’s completely alone.” The woman currently lives offsite while the house undergoes repairs, which will include drywall, and exterior siding, along with other work inside.

The sweltering heat and humidity came back just in time for their week in our area, yet there were big smiles all around. The adults were keeping things moving, but in a friendly way; Simmon laughed and called to a young man up on a ladder hammering siding, “it’s a little bit harder [to do] up there, isn’t it?”

Keeping an eye on the students as they worked, Simmon remarked how life kept passing by this woman and her little house, even though it is nestled amongst a nice neighborhood, with a large health center nearby. With all the work that needs to be done, “you might wonder if someone would stop to help.” He finished the thought by saying that “if people knew of the need they would probably try to do it.”

Roanoker Robyn Lewis stopped by the work site along with a few others who brought lunch to the crew.  They set up a buffet under a nearby shade tree, and chatted with the group, encouraging them to grab some cupcakes. Lewis, a rising senior at Hidden Valley high school, has been on two World Changers trips, and said “it was a blast!” She went with a group to Norfolk who really got to know their “owners,” an older couple who spent the week “on the front porch talking to us” while the kids worked.

One of the traditions for World Changers groups is to present the homeowner with a brand new Bible, signed by all the kids.  By the end of the week the owner and crew have often become fast friends, making this gift a cherished memento. Lewis said that while they were working on their projects, “there was an elderly woman who stood behind a screen door in the house across the street, who watched us all day, every day. We decided to get her a Bible and sign it too.”  When they gave it to her, she told them that “all she wanted was a Bible” – and clearly the affection and compassion that came with it.

Jason Peck, a youth pastor from Oklahoma City, said that “24 came from our church (Crestview Baptist) this year.” Surveying the project in front of him, he said that while “there is a lot of work to be done,” he is confident they can help save the home.

In the midst of all the activity, Peck said of World Changers, “Jesus is the difference for us. Volunteer labor is great, but that is part of the story. The Gospel is the rest of the story.”

Visit for more information.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles