The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Columns

August 1, 2011

Rich Brown: College students make a difference with volunteer help in Joplin area

JOPLIN, Mo. — About two months ago a cataclysmic tornado changed the lives of thousands of people in the Joplin area. This week a group of college students came here and made changes of their own.

It would be hard to calculate the enormous contributions made by the 187 students from Missouri and six other states with (appropriately named) World Changers, part of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

The students wound up their volunteer work on Friday, with 16 crews working on tornado projects in Joplin and on other assignments in Webb City and Carthage. First Baptist Church of Webb City has been their headquarters.

The young volunteers gave their time and funded the trip with their own money.

“The students, traveling with their churches and youth groups, have paid an average of $250 apiece to take part this week,” said Devan Malone, the group’s missions communication specialist, who will be a junior this fall at Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia, Ark. “They sleep on air mattresses while they are here and give up a lot but the rewards are great as far as the service they perform.”

Malone said that this year’s event was made possible because of cooperation among local Southern Baptist churches, the Economic Security Corporation of the Southwest Area and the Joplin Public School System.

Among the projects in the Joplin area that World Changers have taken part in have been painting, building handicap ramps, putting new roofs on homes and a variety of work at East Middle School and Emerson Elementary School.

Youths are also joined on the job by a number of adults, such as Elizabeth Eidson, a preschool teacher from Camdenton, who worked at East Middle School this week.

“My husband was crew chief with World Changers several years ago and he had such a wonderful experience that I always wanted to join him, so I did this year,” said Eidson, who brought seven members of a youth group from her church, Union Southern Baptist near Camdenton, to help out.

Her volunteer efforts extend much deeper than just manual labor.

“I feel like my job is to show others the love that Jesus showed me,” she said.

Malone, whose connection with World Changers came through Revolution Church in Benton, Ark., agreed.

“Our main focus and goal is always to share the love of Christ,” she said. “We use the work that we do as an avenue to show Christ’s love and we are able to minister to people through this.”

World Changers began in the summer of 1990 in Briceville, Tenn., with work by 137 youths and adults on nine homes. Two years later the organization expanded abroad with a project in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico.

The ministry continues to grow today and currently has projects being finalized in 101 North American locations and 28 international sites.

Southern Baptists, as well as other evangelical churches, have found the ministry to be a successful approach to youth missions. The six-week summer sessions provide opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of many, as well as teach servant hood and personal commitments to missions.

The bottom line is that students want to make a difference.

“They want to be part of something big,” Malone said. “Through the efforts of these students, God’s love is being communicated to this community.”

Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email

Text Only
Tornado: Columns
  • Premier Turbines plant in Neosho to close, 80 jobs lost

    Premier Turbines will close its Neosho plant some time in early 2015.
    Chris Pratt, director of communications for Dallas Airmotive, which has owned the plant since 2003, said 80 jobs will be cut.

    June 26, 2014

  • Susan Redden: McCaskill praises Joplin cooperation

    At least two things she saw in Joplin need to be replicated in Washington, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said during a visit last week.
    A strong spirit of cooperation is driving Joplin’s rebuilding, she said. And,  the senator said there is a realization “that federal programs have a place.”

    August 28, 2011

  • Mark Rohr, guest columnist: Miracle of the human spirit ever-pervasive since tornado

    Monday marks 100 days since the worst tornado in our country in the past 70 years tore through our community, leaving lost lives and destroyed property in its wake. As I have said before, that fateful day in late May will be the defining moment in all of our lives whether we want it to be or not.

    August 28, 2011

  • Ron Richard, guest columnist: Partnership can spur recovery

    The tornado that ravaged Joplin and the flooding affecting Missouri River towns and businesses are both human and economic tragedies.

    August 28, 2011

  • Wally Kennedy: Flocks expected for Chick-fil-A opening

    The stocking of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 2127 S. Range Line Road is under way in preparation for a grand reopening on Thursday. The restaurant was among 25 or so eateries on Main Street and Range Line Road that were destroyed by the May 22 tornado.

    August 27, 2011

  • Susan Redden: State officials argue about disaster money

    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is under fire from two different fronts, both relating to plans for a special legislative session in which the Joplin tornado and its economic impact will most certainly be a topic.

    August 21, 2011

  • Wally Kennedy: Walgreen’s to reopen both stores Monday

    Monday will be a big day for two of the three stores that Walgreen’s operates in Joplin. The Walgreen’s at 20th and Main streets sustained significant damage on May 22. It was at the north edge of the tornado’s damage zone. It has had a major makeover.

    August 20, 2011

  • Aspen Bowman Roger Nomer: Image a ‘revelation’ for photographer

    The sky looked dark, but nothing more unusual than a typical springtime storm.
    I was on duty May 22 at the Globe, and had just finished taking photos of Joplin High School’s graduation when the storm sirens started to sound at Missouri Southern State University.


    August 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • Jo Ellis: Small deeds will make a big impact

    A big, big thanks to all who have called, emailed or written to me saying they want to participate in Nature-Joplin (Nurture a Tree-Urban Reforestation Effort-Joplin) to help Joplin recover from the May 22 tornado that scoured the landscape.

    August 14, 2011

  • Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Safe room will always be reminder of May 22

    The afternoon of May 22, I emailed a story to my editor from my home office just before the tornado sirens sounded in Pittsburg.

    August 14, 2011