This year marks the 13th summer that teens from YouthWorks Ministries have come to this Delta community to provide help and hope for community residents.
“Teens in groups of 50 to 80 come here each year from all over the U.S. to help paint and repair houses,” commented Barbie Washburn, who has been associated with the program since it started coming back in 2001. “They also conduct a Kids Club, which is similar to a Vacation Bible School.”
YouthWorks is a non-denominational non-profit corporation that provides live-changing Christ-centered mission trips for over 30,000 students and adult leaders to over 70 communities across North America. Paul Bertelson established the organization in 1994. At that time, Bertelson was serving as a youth minister at church in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minn. His hope and prayer in starting YouthWorks was that every teenager could have the opportunity to go on a mission trip and have their life changed by God.
The groups rotate in the Marvell community during the summer months.
“The first group consisted of about 80 teens from New York,” reported Washburn. “The latest group was from Kentucky. They are a beautiful bunch of young people.”
Washburn has always been the community contact for YouthWorks in Marvell and helps arrange the housing. The youngsters sleep in the old Marvell Elementary School facility and local churches in the area volunteer to help feed and entertain the youths.
YouthWorks has experienced tremendous growth during the 20 years of its existence. According to its website, the first summer, 35 churches brought about 400 participants to two communities. By 2000 there were 35 communities and over 10,000 participants. In 2013, YouthWorks expects to have over 1,500 churches involved with 32,000 participants working in 70 communities.