WICHITA, Kan. — Teens from Churches of Christ sure know how to paint the town.
From West Virginia to Texas, dozens of annual summer work camps bring together young Christians to scrape and paint houses.
Here in Kansas’ largest city, 200 teens and 60 adults participated in the recent eighth annual Wichita Work Camp, organized by the Northside Church of Christ.
“We’re not here doing work to show ourselves off,” said Colton Quall, 17, a member of the Central Church of Christ in Topeka, Kan., two hours northeast of Wichita. “We’re here to be servants for God.”
A dozen congregations in Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma sent youth groups to Wichita. Teams came, too, from Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City and York College in Nebraska. “It’s a lot of work, definitely,” said Laura Weber, 16, a member of the Northside church. “You don’t really get a lot of breaks. But when you do, there’s a lot of talk about God, and you get to meet a lot of people who share the same faith as you, which is really amazing.”
Besides putting fresh coats on houses, the painters saved the city of Wichita thousands of dollars by covering gang graffiti under bridges and sprucing up playground equipment at a park, said Toby Levering, the camp’s director.
“The goal is to get teenagers to take on Jesus’ call to be a servant,” said Levering, a former youth minister who now preaches for the Northside church.
Like a number of work camps across the nation, the Wichita effort — which this summer required 200 gallons of paint — traces its roots to the Memphis Work Camp in Tennessee.
“I believe there are close to 20 work camps that have branched off from the one in Memphis, including ours,” said Ryan Ice, coordinator of the 17-year-old Mid-Ohio Valley Work Camp and youth minister for the Grand Central Church of Christ in Vienna, W.Va.
In the 26-year history of the Memphis Work Camp, volunteers have painted 781 homes, director Buster Clemens said.
“We think our students learn a great deal about service and being Christ-like and also about culture and relating to people who are not like us as far as socioeconomic differences, racial differences and different areas of town,” said Clemens, youth minister for the Highland Church of Christ in Cordova, Tenn., east of Memphis.
More than 300 teens painted 22 houses in Memphis this summer.
“We don’t just paint homes,” said Garrett Roberts, 18, from the Church of Christ at Trenton Crossing in Clarksville, Tenn. “We paint God’s love on the city of Memphis.”
Ansley Roberts, Garrett’s 16-year-old sister, said the change of atmosphere benefits her.
“You’re in a part of town you might not normally be in, around people you may not normally hang out with,” she said. “Still, you accomplish something pretty amazing together because you’ve got a common goal: serving God by serving people.”
Elsewhere, 65 teens and 25 adults painted nine houses in Columbus, Ohio.
This summer marked the 11th year of the Central Ohio Work Camp, said Adam Metz, minister for the Alum Creek Church of Christ in Lewis Center, Ohio, north of Columbus.
“Unfortunately, the Churches of Christ have not been very active in the city, and this has marked a small step forward,” Metz said. “The planning board has worked hard, with varying levels of success, to maintain relationships with our homeowners from year to year.” - See more at: http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/painting-for-jesus#sthash.gYAsoJ3R.dpuf
Decades ago, James O. Maxwell preached a sermon at the Lawrence and Marder Church of Christ in Dallas on trusting in God.
One woman in the predominantly black congregation became quite emotional.
“Oh, you better hush your mouth!” the sister proclaimed. “Hush your mouth! You better hush!”
The message touched another sister, and she, too, started shouting.
Maxwell’s son Shawn, then about 6 years old, listened to the outbursts and nudged his mother, Betty.
“Mama, why won’t Daddy hush?” the boy asked.
Maxwell, a longtime minister who serves as vice president for institutional expansion at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, still chuckles as he recounts that experience.
Pulpits are a great place to share the Gospel, lead sinners away from temptation — and find funny stories.
Trey Morgan recalls preaching a gospel meeting for a small country church in Ojo Feliz, N.M.
The first night of the meeting, Morgan noticed that the water in the baptistery had been replaced with a large, baited mousetrap.
The second night, a rat met its utter demise — during Morgan’s sermon.
“The trap went off, and a rat started flopping, flailing, screeching,” said Morgan, minister for the Childress Church of Christ in the Texas Panhandle. “For the next 20 minutes, I tried to preach over sounds of a dying rat just behind me.”
Timothy Gunnells, director of university relations for Amridge University in Montgomery, Ala., remembers a thunderstorm knocking out the power at the church where he was preaching.
The auditorium had no windows, so someone lit a candle.
“The back wall was all-white brick, and my rather long and wavy hairstyle cast a shadow on the wall,” Gunnells said. “From the second row, a boy who was about 5 yelled out, ‘It’s the shadow of Elvis!’ Needless to say, there was an uproar of laughter throughout the church. I thought it was pretty funny, too.”
Speaking of funny sights, John Walker Moore looked into the audience one Sunday and spotted a small cat peeking out of a woman’s purse.
“I hope the cat came to a commitment decision, but I wasn’t about to push baptism,” joked Moore, minister for the East End Church of Christ in East Hampton, N.Y.
Charlie Harrison enjoyed watching one mother’s approach to corralling her rowdy children.
She’d stuff marshmallows in their mouths.
“You should try it sometime,” said Harrison, minister for the Brunswick Church of Christ in Maine. “Just poke a jumbo marshmallow in someone’s mouth next time they begin to wiggle and want to wag their tongue at you while you are talking.”
But he warned: “Do not ever think of trying this on your beloved wife. She’s likely to take it the wrong way!”
One time, Roger Dennington made the announcements before Larry Sheehy preached at the Laurel Church of Christ in Mississippi.
Dennington grabbed the handful of announcement items that folks had given him and sat down.
“The sermon was short, and the preacher seemed to depart from his normal, well-prepared and smooth delivery style,” said Dennington, now a deacon for the Snellville Church of Christ in Georgia.
After the sermon, Sheehy made a beeline for Dennington. “Do you have my sermon notes?” Sheehy asked.
Maxwell, the Southwestern Christian vice president, shared another funny experience.
He was preaching at the West Broadway Church of Christ in Louisville, Ky., and offered the invitation. Several people responded, but one woman resisted when asked if she had a need for prayer.
“I ain’t done nothing!” the woman replied. She just needed to use the restroom behind the pulpit.
Maxwell later wrote a book on preaching ministry and communication in black churches.
His book’s title: “Hush Your Mouth!”