This is an article I recently submitted for publication in our local newspaper…
‘Community’ according to Wikipedia “can refer to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values.” The glue that holds communities together are the shared relationships among the group. Shared values are often shaped by the ebb and flow of the relationships that hold the group together. This past summer our church (Community Baptist in Winston) experienced how relationships can enrich and change a community.
In July our church hosted 270 teenagers and their adult sponsors for a WorldChangers project sponsored by Lifeway Christian Resources. These folks from five western states (Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, and Wyoming) worked on 25 projects in Green, Winston, Dillard, and Canyonville. Most of the projects were in individual’s homes helping with landscaping and yard work, painting, rebuilding decks and porches, building fences, and in one case putting new siding on an existing home. The scope of work these teens and adults performed was amazing. But even more significant than the work are the relationships that were initiated and continue to exist through social media sites like Facebook.
The teenagers came from all sorts of different backgrounds and different kinds of communities. There were young people from big cities and small, isolated towns. There were teens that had rarely if ever traveled outside their hometown. There were teens that have travelled widely in the US and across the world. But what linked these students together was a passion to see how God can work through even menial tasks such as pulling weeds and cleaning yard debris.
Not only did teens from around the western US work together but the project demonstrated how believers from various churches can cooperate with one another and local businesses for the purpose of changing a community. We haven’t solved the problems of unemployment and economic depression that continue to challenge our community. We haven’t changed the patterns of family disintegration that are occurring all around us. What we have experienced is a change in how we look at one another and how we can lay aside things that separate us and build on what brings us together. Our community will never look the same because of the changes these teens and their sponsors created- physically and spiritually.