Metro Changers to continue World Changers mission in Birmingham

By Caleb Yarbrough

Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

For many involved in World Changers through the past 30 years, LifeWay Christian Resources’ May 1 announcement that the ministry would be discontinued was a personal loss.

The unique ministry not only affected the lives of the low-income residents who heard the gospel and received countless new roofs, paint jobs and wheelchair ramps free of charge, but it also was known for inspiring volunteers to develop a heart for service and evangelism.

Year-round missions The Birmingham Metro Baptist Association began hosting World Changers projects in the early 1990s. Metro Changers was incorporated in 2007, established to offer year-round missions opportunities similar to the summer World Changers projects.

Ministry partners

“The BMBA has a long history of support and ministry partnership with Metro Changers,” explained Chris Crain, BMBA executive director. “The BMBA has provided financial support in the form of salary subsidy for the Metro Changers executive director, office space in the BMBA building, payroll and other administration services through the years.

“Regarding the future, the BMBA believes in the Metro Changers ministry model and is working with Metro Changers leadership during their period of transition and restructuring,” Crain said. “[Developing a strong partnership] will provide ministry opportunities for member churches and meet the needs of residents in substandard housing.”

Metro Changers receives about 60% of its funding from the City of Birmingham, with the remainder coming from churches, nonprofits, businesses and private donors.

The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions also is a ministry partner. The SBOM hosts an annual week of service in which it subsidizes the costs of a project, allowing many students and churches who would not otherwise be able to afford the experience to participate.

Only 6% of the funds Metro Changers receives go to operations. The organization estimates its work has contributed more than $10 million in value to the Birmingham metro area since 2007.

‘God thing’

Butch Henderson has served as executive director of Metro Changers as well as a coordinator for World Changers projects.

“The number of people who have come to know the Lord, the number of times the gospel has been presented over these 30 years (with World Changers) is remarkable and it’s nothing more, in my opinion, than a God thing,” Henderson said. “Everything has a season as Scripture teaches us. It’s time for a new season and a new way but the message is going to be the same.

“We’ve got to have a new vision and a new type of organization, or several organizations, that can help step up and stand in the gap for these churches and student pastors that have seen over the years what [World Changers has] done not only in their lives but … the [lives of] thousands of students,” he said. “Although World Changers is going away, the experience doesn’t have to.”

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