Tifton First United Methodist Church is spearheading an ambitious mission project this summer as nearly 150 youth representing 10 churches descend upon Tifton to assist local homeowners. Known as River of Life, youth from around the state will gather from July 12 -16 to worship, celebrate their faith, and help homeowners with maintenance and repair projects.
“Church as always been the perfect ‘come and see what we are doing’,” said Tifton First Youth Director Derek Harrison. “This is the perfect ‘go and tell’ – which is the greatest commandment.”
“I love the intentionality of this project.”
“This is huge on so many levels,” said Tifton First Senior Pastor Chip Grantham. “First, it is the teaching of the service component and getting youth and adults excited about missions.”
“There is nothing like the missional experience. It gives people the opportunity to get connected and realize that they have made a difference.”
In the works for more than a year, the River of Life project has been taking applications and vetting projects from local homeowners to determine the suitability of projects for teenage volunteers. According to Harrison, most of the projects will involve rebuilding wheelchair ramps, painting, landscaping, and yard cleanup.
There are currently 11 homes scheduled to be worked on, with three more currently going through the vetting process. River of Life has secured the services of an experienced contractor to assist with the vetting process in determining if projects are viable and appropriate.
River of Life and Tifton First United Methodist have partnered with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, which will provide housing for the youth and chaperones. ABAC will also provide breakfast. Lunch each day will be provided by Chick-fil-A. Supper will be provided by the volunteers who cook the Wednesday night supper at Tifton First United Methodist Church.
The daily schedule will be as follows: the day will begin with an early breakfast on the ABAC campus before going to work until 4 pm. At the end of each day there will be supper, games and worship on the TFUMC campus.
The youth will be divided into teams and will focus on one house throughout the week.
If a team finishes with its home prior to week’s end, the youth will move to assist with Peanut Butter and Jesus, and a shelf building project at the Salvation Army location.
Even though this project has been in the planning stages for more than a year, there remains a need for volunteers to assist with the logistics of the week. Individuals interested in assisting will be required to attend one of three Safe Sanctuary training sessions.
“Safe Sanctuary rules will be followed,” said Harrison. “There will be 2 adults for every seven students.”
“Prior to River of Life there will be three Safe Sanctuary training days. If you think that you want to assist, you must go through the training. It takes less than one hour.”
For more information, Derek Harrison may be contacted at the Tifton First United Methodist Church office.