WIRED Ministries helps with community-wide projects in Wiregrass areacomment (0)
August 7, 2014
By Julie Payne
With no full-time staff and a limited number of volunteers, the annual weeklong outreach event of WIRED Ministries shouldn’t even be possible, noted WIRED’s camp director Mark Anderson.
“But our Lord comes through every year,” he said.
WIRED Ministries, which exists to “unite, serve and disciple” in the Wiregrass area, joins local churches with the area’s nonprofits, service agencies and ministries for a week of community-wide ministry projects. “We operate as WIRED Ministries but call the week we do service projects together WIRED,” explained Anderson, who attends Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Dothan.
The idea for WIRED formed in 2006 when a group of local student ministers were concerned about the “camp high” experiences students were having.
“They would (commit) to the commitments they made (at) camp for about a month” but then go back to the way they were living beforehand, Anderson noted.
“We realized that we were spending over $150,000 in our small group each summer to go to camps and (on) missions trips but had no sustained ministry projects in our own community,” he said.
Jerry Grandstaff, Columbia Baptist Association’s director of missions, challenged the group of student ministers with the concept to hold a community-wide event for student ministries that would incorporate the association and community.
As a result of that challenge, the group looked at several ministry models, eventually developing WIRED using a combination of elements from both M-Fuge and World Changers.
“We use the lodging format of World Changers by getting area churches to host a group at their church for the week,” Anderson said, adding the M-Fuge format is reflected in WIRED’s ministry team assignments and daily team schedules. “Our schedule is almost identical to M-Fuge — morning rally, work [at] ministry sites, free time and corporate worship at night,” he noted.
WIRED typically lasts a full week in June, and this year’s event took place June 22–27 with about 725 people and 28 churches participating. Of those churches, 24 were Southern Baptist, three were Methodist and one was nondenominational.
WIRED week kicks off with a morning celebration service each morning. Participants then go to their ministry project site and work from 8:45 a.m.–4 p.m. Following a period of free time in the late afternoon, all participants gather back together in the evening for worship and devotionals.
WIRED’s ministry teams are organized into several categories: “children’s ministry,” which includes backyard Bible clubs held at apartment complexes and smaller rural churches; “social ministry,” which allows the participating students to work with local nonprofit ministries such as clothing closets and soup kitchens; “construction,” where light construction projects are done for those who need assistance; and “games and recreation,” where WIRED participants can serve at the Boys and Girls Club in Dothan, among other locations.
Increase in participants
During WIRED’s first year serving the Wiregrass area in 2008, about 15 churches and 225 people participated. By 2011, the number of participants had climbed to 925.
Anderson noted there is “no doubt” participants’ lives have been changed through WIRED. “Students are dramatically changed,” he noted. “I have had many of them, their parents and student ministers come up to me and tell me of the huge change in their lives because they went to WIRED.”
Lloyd Blank, student pastor for Ridgecrest Baptist and a member of WIRED Ministries’ board of directors, agreed, noting students have developed a heart for local missions as a result of their participation in WIRED.
“We now have numerous students serving in different capacities every month as a direct result of their WIRED experience,” he said. “They have been made aware of local area needs and many have taken responsibility to see that the needs are now being met.”
Recipients of the ministry work also have been impacted through the help they receive. Anderson said, “It could be the widow woman [who] doesn’t have anyone to help her do things around the house but is blessed to have a group from WIRED come ... and get things fixed.” He also noted how “dozens of people who wouldn’t have a wheelchair ramp” received one that week because of kids serving through WIRED.
WIRED is unique to the Wiregrass area, but Anderson noted it’s the ministry’s prayer that an event like this would happen in cities around the world.
“We would love for other cities and/or associations of churches to come watch WIRED in motion so that they can take what we do back to their community,” he noted. “There would have to be a strong commitment from local student ministers, churches, business leaders and elected officials, but an event like WIRED could happen anywhere.”
Grandstaff noted what a tremendous blessing WIRED has been to the community. “WIRED is truly a difference-maker ... (and) a beautiful picture of partnership and the value of cooperation. Under Mark Anderson’s direction, leadership of our youth ministers and support of our churches, WIRED continues to accomplish all and even more than we originally dreamed.”
Anderson said he believes WIRED Ministries is the closest thing he has seen to the early Church in Acts.
“We have seen that He can and will do great things when His people come together to glorify Him,” he said. “We unite to serve our community so that they may see Him in a fresh light. Through all of this His power is revealed to us and many wonders are done in His name, people come to know Him as their Lord and Savior and Christians are made stronger because of their involvement. We are not a camp; we are a movement that wants God to show up and show off in a way that generations have never seen.”