The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 8, 2013

Donations, youth groups from six states benefit tornado victims

By Rich Brown
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Victims of the 2011 Joplin tornado received a double blessing recently.

Area churches made financial donations while volunteer workers with an international organization of Christian teenagers came to offer their services. Rebuild Joplin announced last week that its organization, which has helped build and restore homes for tornado survivors, received a big boost financially.

On behalf of some of the 50 churches in the Spring River Baptist Association, $30,000 each was donated to Rebuild Joplin through Forest Park Baptist and First Baptist of Carthage.  Not only that but 238 teens from six states spent the week working in Joplin on behalf of World Changers, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources that each summer works to improve substandard housing.

In connection with the donations, student volunteers alongside adult leaders with World Changers did everything from building a house from scratch to doing a wide variety of remodeling and repairs.

Representing 13 churches from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Tennessee and New Mexico, 22 World Changer crews at 22 different sites worked in temperatures mostly in the 90-degree range all week long, while taking up lodging at Calvary Baptist Church.

With conclusion of the work, some packed up and either headed home or left for the next assignment.

In the case of Brenna Fouts, missions and communications specialist with the World Changers project in Joplin, it was heading for the next mission at Little Rock, Ark. Fouts, who is from Illinois, is a student at East Tennessee State University.  She has gone to six World Changers camps during her high school and college years.

A Webb City native, Nathan Dawson, worked all week with one crew on construction of a new home at 1001 E. Second St.

Dawson, whose uncle Jack Dawson sculpted the Praying Hands statue in Webb City, is currently youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Raymore. He volunteered his labor along with nine others from his church, which has been involved with World Changers for six years.

"So many times in churches people get into that 'I want to sit and learn more' attitude," he said. "These kids just want to get out and work. That is what is unique about World Changers."

John Davidson, pastor of Carthage First Baptist, served as Joplin project coordinator for the World Changers mission in Joplin.

Davidson, who spent 37 years as a youth minister, said this marks the third straight year that Carthage First Baptist has been involved with the group.

"It is not because of the tornado that World Changers came to Joplin," he said. "We were already on a site before the tornado arrived. We are committed to working in Joplin every year for five or six years. We are not just these volunteers that showed up because of this unique thing that happened with the tornado. It just happened to coincide with the tornado."

Since 1990 there have been more than 300,000 participants in World Changers, with this year more than 16,500 youngsters working in more than 60 cities not only in the United States, but, also, in Alaska and Puerto Rico.