There was much excitement in and around Edgefield during the week of July 9-14. Members from the twenty Southern Baptist churches that make up the Edgefield Baptist Association engaged in a week of service and ministry. Over 140 missions volunteers came together to conduct ministry projects and repairs to local homes.This is the 8th year of Churches Changing Communities, CCC, and each year has been a blessing to participants and to the recipients of the help. In CCC 2017, members from the churches accomplished 17 construction and repair projects in local homes in four counties, and conducted ministry in eight locations. “This wonderful week of ministry and local missions would not have been possible without the excellent organizational skill and tireless effort of Mrs. Jackie Ridings, who led the preparation and administered the week,” said Rev. Tim Shull, Director of Missions for Edgefield Baptist Association.
Antioch Baptist Church was again the host church and home base for CCC. Youth participants spent the week away from home, sleeping on the floors at the church, engaging in worship and Bible study each evening, and going out every day to serve. Breakfast and supper, brought by a different church for each meal, was served to participants at Antioch and the volunteers ate lunch at their work sites. Every morning the students were joined by about 65 adults who transported everyone to their sites and led the work. Construction coordinators and team leaders planned the 17 construction and repair projects, ordered materials from Heritage Hardware, and actively led the projects. Ministry leaders led the teams to engage in Good News Club and other games and Bible stories each day at Parker and Johnston Elementary Schools. The ministry teams also worked in the afternoons at six other sites: Edgefield County Hospital, The Ridge Nursing Home, Forest View Manor, the Johnston Food Bank, the Senior Citizens Center, and the Soap and Suds Laundromat. A Prayer Team traveled the four counties and prayed at every site and at all of the churches. In the evenings the participants met for worship led by Rev. Rob Williams and Rev. Travis Brian from Edgefield First Baptist Church. Local singer Sara Miller, from Gilgal Baptist Church, was a lead vocalist for the worship team. Rev. Shep Bevis, Youth Pastor at Gate City Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., brought stirring and challenging messages to the participants. “I’ve been around, all over this country, doing missions and speaking at youth events, and I’ve never seen this level of cooperation and community among churches,” Bevis declared. “You are truly blessed here; and it seems that you understand that you are blessed in order to be a blessing.” According to Rev. Shull, the cost for this year’s CCC will come in at about $15,000. Funding comes from the churches, grants, individual donations, the homeowners, and from the registration fees of the participants. “These are mission-minded people,” said Shull, “they each pay $90 to work in the heat and sleep on the floor.”
Rev. Andy Hunter, Interim Pastor at Antioch Baptist Church, went around each day to the work and ministry sites taking pictures and shooting video interviews. The picture presentations and videos were shown at worship to encourage the workers. Pictures can be found on Edgefield Baptist Association’s Facebook page. Four “thank you” video interviews, featuring homeowners whose homes were repaired, were shown at the week’s end Celebration Service Friday night. Mrs. Brenda Padgett and her grandson Trevon attended the Friday night service. “It is such a blessing to get help with something that you can’t handle yourself. My husband and I are so grateful for the work you did and the encouragement you gave us.” Another homeowner wrote in a thank you note, “Please know that you are appreciated! Please keep doing the Lord’s work, not for accolades from people, but because it is the right thing to do! Hopefully I will be able to join you in this ministry soon.”
Many of the participants of CCC found great fulfillment in serving in the name of Jesus. Leah Baker, an 8th grader from Antioch, said, “CCC is such an uplifting time. Throughout the week I get to help minister to children, although while doing this, the children helped minister to me. Every year CCC helps to guide me and lead me through my walk with Christ.” Alex Mims, a 9th grader from Antioch, reported, “In CCC we went to the laundry and helped some people. I felt like we touched two ladies’ lives by helping and encouraging. I love CCC. This year was the best one I have done of the three years I have done CCC. Also I got close to God.” Tucker Bledsoe, an 11th grader from Little Stevens Creek Baptist Church, said, “It is a life changing moment for participants of CCC to work on repairs at someone’s house to make their life better.” Ashley Mims, a member of Red Hill Baptist Church, testified, “This week I worked with the Good News Club and one day at lunch I was on Facebook and randomly a little boy looked up at me and asked me, “Why are you here?” I explained to him that Jesus died for us so this was the least I could do for Him. It was clear to me that Jesus was telling me to get off my social media and tell about Him.” Emily Cockrell, a 10th grader from Antioch, stated, “One thing that stood out to me was all of the little kids that asked to know more about Jesus.” Bailey Mims shared, “What I liked best about CCC are the Wow moments, like when a little girl asked me, ‘What do you do all day?’ I said, ‘I get up early and change and eat and come to you. We play and learn, and then I do another project in the afternoon and go back for worship and then come to you again the next day.’ The little girl said, ‘All of that for us? Thank you!’”
Adult participants agreed. “Thank you to the CCC organizers for making the week happen,” said Ashley Oglesby, who attends Antioch and First Bethany Baptist Churches, “I love what we are doing to help our community. I am so glad I was able to be a part of it, and witness it. Glory to God! He is alive!” Susan Keck, of Edgefield First Baptist Church, reminded us, “We are commanded by God to go and tell everyone that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. I am convinced that the devil does not want us to tell others about God’s love because it weakens his power over our town. CCC is a perfect opportunity for Christians to have an impact on Edgefield County. It is an opportunity to show God’s love in a big way through projects that one person could never do alone. It is an opportunity to show how big God is.” Mary Scott, a member of Little Stevens Creek Baptist Church, put it this way: “CCC is an awesome experience to go through. You get to make new friends and grow as a family. I’m glad to be part of this week and see all the amazing work and miracles of Jesus Christ being done. We don’t do this to get the credit; all the credit and glory goes to Him. I had the opportunity to see some people accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior this week. So if you want to become closer to Jesus Christ or help your community, then I encourage you to join us next year.” “This is my first time at CCC due to health reasons”, said Richard Wates, a member at Red Hill Baptist Church, “and I really enjoyed working with everyone for the Glory of God. It was definitely the warmest and most rewarding vacation of my life.”