JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of young people here in South Mississippi this week want their mission trip to be so much more than fixing up homes in need of repair. The volunteers say it's an opportunity to share God's love and put their faith into action.
Sixteen-year-old Cary Winstead said she discovered two talents she didn't know she had. The Florida teen learned she can shingle a roof, and to talk to complete strangers about the love of God.
"I'm not a very outgoing person, like going and talking to other people," Winstead said. "But I've gotten excited. I've gone up and [been] talking to people that I've never met before."
The faith-based group, World Changers, brought 220 volunteers from sixth graders to college age to South Mississippi. The community service projects include painting, roofing, and building wheelchair ramps.
Ashley Jones is a World Changers staff member.
"This is something that they can take back home with them," Jones said. "I know of several people who have taken this with them and done projects at home in their own communities just like this."
The volunteer work is just part of the World Changers experience. The young people say the time they spend talking and praying with people in the neighborhood and one another helps them grow spiritually.
Emily Jennings of Georgia is making her second World Changers trip this summer.
"We have a worship service where we sing a lot of songs. There's a guy that talks and he has really nice lessons. Especially in the afternoons, it's a time to rest and really think about what we're doing and reflect on the impact we could have made and what we can do the next day."
Another Georgia teen, Caleb Duncan, said he likes going door to door praying with the community, as well as helping the less fortunate fix their homes.
"I think it's very important to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. If you say you're a Christian, if you say you're saved, if you say that you have God in your heart, then it's our job to go out and do what God wants us to do and that's to serve others. "
This week World Changers volunteers are working at homes in Gautier, Pascagoula and Moss Point.