GRIFTON — Andrew’s eyes never, not even once, lost contact with the face in front of him. He told the story of how two days earlier God saved him, and he spoke with such intensity and confidence that all one could do was put down the pen and paper and just listen, savoring a moment to be reminded of the gospel’s life-changing power.
The Lord changed Andrew Somers’ heart the first evening of Deep Impact 2009. During Deep Impact Grifton, Somers and other middle school and high school students served at sites throughout the community helping with construction, Vacation Bible School, prayer walking and service projects.
Every evening youth participate in a worship service and on this particular night as Mike Sowers preached about confessing sin and following Jesus Christ, Somers could not deny that something was different.
“I’m confused. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if I’m ready. I need to clean up my life first,” Somers said to his youth leader Brian Gunningham.
“You and the Lord are having an encounter,” Gunningham told Somers.
“He’s telling me to follow Him. But I don’t know how,” Somers said. Gunningham shared the gospel, read passages in Romans, the Lord awakened Somers’ heart to the truth of the gospel and he responded.
Gunningham’s youth from First Baptist Church in Rochelle, Ga., were among 170 other youth participating in Deep Impact Grifton. Deep Impact began 12 years ago at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell in Brunswick County, and in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (see related story below). This is the second year Deep Impact expanded to include camp weeks at other locations.
Deep Impact will also be held in Red Springs, Greensboro and Eastern Pennsylvania with about 1,650 youth expected to serve this year.
“They’re kids who are coming to do something,” said Mike Sowers, North Carolina Baptist Men youth missions consultant. “They come here with a purpose; they come to serve.” Sowers begins each Deep Impact week with a training session to help equip the youth for their specific area of service that week. Some youth learn how to roof a house, others practice leading children through football drills, others receive training in evangelism.
One reason Gunningham chose to bring his youth to Deep Impact is because of these various mission tracks. Youth in Grifton spread out over the community at 15 different mission sites. Gunningham looks forward to taking the skills they learned in Grifton and making an impact in Rochelle.
Ashley Matthews, a rising high school senior and member of Highlands Baptist Church in Garner, served with youth at an assisted living facility for adults with developmental disabilities.
“You can tell that it means a lot,” Matthews said of the youth’s outreach at the facility. Residents waited by the window and waved as soon as they saw students arrive for the second day.
One week is just long enough to build relationships and love people so much it hurts to leave. “Our whole group was in tears — they did not want to leave,” said Terry Strickland, youth leader at Porter Swamp Baptist Church.
Porter Swamp served last year in Grifton with Deep Impact, and caring for people around them is one thing they learned that stuck with them. Pastor Tim Moore still remembers the children he served last year during a sports clinic.
One day this week, sitting on top a hot roof at a construction site, he thought about those children from last year, wondering where they are and how they are doing. As if reading his mind, a youth sitting with him on that roof said aloud the same thing — and at that moment Moore knew Deep Impact made a deep impact on him, and his youth. “This week impacts the people you’re ministering to, and it ministers to you,” he said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lilley is in the communications office of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)
For a longer version of this story, and more photos click here.