TILDEN — A dozen teenagers from Tilden Baptist Church who want to help change the world this summer decided to start close to home by rebuilding an elderly neighbor’s front porch.
Twenty youth who attend Tilden Baptist Church — a 30-member congregation in a community of 500 about 90 miles south of San Antonio — will serve this summer with World Changers, a Southern Baptist program to involve young people in hands-on missions service throughout the country.
But before they left for their summer assignment in Wyoming, 12 of the teenagers and at least an equal number of adult sponsors spent part of Memorial Day weekend replacing the front porch on the home of Charles Goff, an 83-year-old World War II veteran.
Before they could begin construction, the youth group dismantled the home’s old porch, removed trees and brush, and hauled away four trailer loads of refuse. The teenagers worked from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and at the end of the day, Goff’s home had a new porch.
“Wow! I didn’t think they could do it,” Goff said as he stood on his new porch.
“They couldn't. Just as God stretched the three fish and five loaves to feed the 5,000, he took the commitment and hard, hot work of these young people and their leaders and multiplied their efforts,” said Jim Furgerson, pastor of Tilden Baptist Church.
“For many, it was the first time they had experienced the church being the church, reaching out to help and in a tangible way expressing Christian love.”
Young people in Tilden first began to catch a vision for serving God during a Disciple Now weekend in the spring led by a youth ministry team from Howard Payne University, he explained. The event drew 26 participants from a school district that has 62 students in junior high and high school.
The small congregation did not have regularly scheduled Wednesday evening activities, but the students initiated a mid-week Bible study that attracted about one-third of the school’s student body.
“God is using Tilden Baptist Church to change the culture in McMullen County, and it’s starting by changing the kids,” he said. “We’re a little town where the kids are turning it upside down.”