Nearly 800 people gather in Augusta for weekend of hands-on ministry to show God's love


AUGUSTA, Ga. — Nearly 800 people gathered in Augusta last weekend for hands-on ministry that included renovating schools and churches, building a playground, providing free dental care, throwing block parties, and so much more.

In the process, at least 24 people made salvation decisions.

“We’re rejoicing over that,” said David Nowling, associate director of missions at the Augusta Association of Baptist Churches.

The initiative, which involved 65 churches from 10 states, kicked off at West Acres Baptist Church for a rally that included former University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt, SEND Relief President Bryant Wright, and Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. as speakers.

Richt told WRDW-TV the idea behind the initiative was to meet the community’s needs, whether they were physical, mental or spiritual.

About 60 teams fanned out across the city, some ending up at Garrett Elementary School where two teacher lounges were renovated.

“It was more than what I expected, so I was overwhelmed,” Principal Stacey Walk told the TV station. “And I know that my teachers are going to be overwhelmed as well.”

“Our hope is that what happens this weekend is that the local leaders here in Augusta and churches will just take the ball and run with it,” Wright said. “This could be an annual thing in Augusta. … That’s our hope.”

The Augusta Association of Baptist Churches published an impressive list of ministry projects. That list said the volunteers:

• Completed an Extreme Makeover: Church Edition for one local church by refurbishing the sanctuary, welcome area, parking lot and playground.

• Painted a church’s fellowship hall and welcome area and did a deep clean of its kitchen.

• Hosted block parties, including one in what was described as “the most lost zip code in Georgia” where 10 people came to faith in Christ.

• Provided meals for teachers at a local school where the principal allowed volunteers to pray for faculty and students that were in their classrooms.

• Built a playground for an after-school program.

• Removed a dilapidated fence and built a new wooden fence for a foster family.

• Built new shelves, new doors and a ramp for the food ministry at a local mission.

• Volunteers helped with a Night to Shine program for people with special needs.

• Painted a local rescue mission, made repairs at a pregnancy center, did random acts of kindness in downtown Augusta, and visited local nursing homes.

• Removed old carpet and installed new carpet squares for a local church.

• Gave “blessing and encouragement bags” to 24 foster families.