Volunteers aim to make disciples for Jesus in Annistonís 11 housing projectscomment (0)
September 27, 2012
By Grace Thornton
For Chris Terrell, the summer ended with a splash — 11 of them, actually.
“We had 11 kids profess Christ this summer in a real radical, life-changing way, so we drove my pickup truck around with a big bucket in the back and had a traveling baptism service,” he said. “We went back and baptized them in front of their family at the very places where they’d accepted Christ.”
Those places are some of the toughest neighborhoods in Anniston, he said.
But Terrell, executive director of Renovation Ministries, said he feels that’s what being a follower of Christ is about — reaching “the last, the least and the lost and taking the gospel to the darkness of the world.”
That’s why he turned down a salaried position at a church and stepped out in faith to start Renovation Ministries, which aims to make disciples for Jesus Christ in Anniston’s 11 housing projects.
“Our goal is to work with children and do Bible clubs and sports camps and any educational activity that could show them love and point them to Christ,” Terrell said. “We want them to grow up knowing Him and making Him known and to be catalysts in changing their city.”
This summer 800 volunteers from Alabama and surrounding states came to work alongside Renovation Ministries in six of those housing projects.
“We were in those neighborhoods every single day, and that developed a consistency that showed the community we cared,” Terrell said. “We’re not just a summer ministry — we’re a year-round active ministry in these communities.”
Renovation’s work depends on lots of help, he said.
“Our goal for 2013 is to have 100 volunteer missionaries each week for all 10 weeks of summer, which would give us the capacity to be in all 11 neighborhoods for the entire summer,” Terrell said. “We would love for more churches to look at Anniston for their summer missions trip or Disciple Now weekends. There isn’t a single person who’s come who hasn’t left with a piece of Anniston in their heart.”
Anniston has been in Terrell’s heart since God led him to start Renovation Ministries three years ago, he said.
“It’s been pretty overwhelming — we are just a grassroots ministry initiated by God. We just want to love people and show them who God is.”
It’s important that Christ-followers do that in their own backyard, he said.
“We want to impact the people who come in such a way that they leave changed too,” Terrell said. “We want them to experience God in a true and real way so that they go home and begin to work in their own backyard.”
Steve Robinson, minister to youth at Eastmont Baptist Church, Montgomery, said that’s exactly what happened with his youth group.
Students from Eastmont worked in Anniston last year, and when they went back this summer the kids in Anniston remembered their names.
“I’ve been doing this 19 years, and I’ve never seen anything have an impact like what Renovation is doing in Anniston,” he said. “They are willing to do anything to further the gospel, and they’re just following the Spirit. I’m impressed with how well and wisely they’re doing the work there.”
And the impact on the students was amazing too, he said. They came back “so fired up” about what they’d done in Anniston that they got Eastmont fired up about it too.
“The women of the church then raised money for paper products, crafts, sports equipment, you name it, and then they spent a weekend working in Anniston too,” Robinson said.
In all the work that’s gone on, Terrell said they’ve seen God do amazing things.
“I could tell you stories of days when we had backyard Bible clubs and there was a 100 percent chance of rain and it went around us on the radar — not a single drop ever fell,” he said.
And even bigger, he said, was the city of Anniston asking Renovation to lead a Bible study in a really rough area of town in hopes that it would help improve the neighborhood.
“We average 60 kids a week at that club every Wednesday night, and we’re within 10 or 15 feet of one of the roughest areas of Anniston,” Terrell said. “We go into the neighborhood and meet their families and invite them to come. We just want to pour out blessings on the community.”
The first goal, Terrell said, is the community, but the second is to “pour the gospel into the students and adults who come to work, along with a real responsibility to share it.”
The time is now, he said.
“The work of God is here. I believe God is on the verge of something huge for our city,” Terrell said.
For more information, visit renovationministries.com or call 256-499-1182.