Youth volunteers 'Mpact' Thorndale
There was evidence of a week of hard work.
Youth and leaders entered the grounds bearing fresh sunburns along with a mosaic of paint marks, grass stains, scrapes and dirt.
Equipment and supplies lay around the tent waiting to be placed in trailers, while broken tools, including three power washers and two push lawn mowers, lay separate as casualties of the week's work.
Mark McBride, Mpact founder, under the tent coordinating the clean up as the 15 teams returned from across town.
"This is a way for people to share God's love in practical way," McBride said.
McBr ide, a lso a pastor in McDade, who has lead mission trips to Mexico for 20 years, founded Mpact in 1997.
Though the program started out with members evangelizing door to door, McBride said it has evolved to use more hands-on methods to allow volunteers of all ages to participate.
"Everybody could use their house being painted if it's in bad shape, or their lawn mowed, or their trees trimmed," he said. Many of the projects require non-sk illed ser v ice, allowing even the younger youth to contribute.
Mpact allows the entire local community to be involved, McBride said. Worship services are provided by local host churches or by the leaders and youth in the program.
"We don't pay big-time, hot shot speakers," he said. "We have people that are just normal youth ministers and pastors. Worship bands are lead by (locals) that come."
Usually, a church volunteers to host the group, but none stepped up McBride said. He met with the director of missions in Cameron to ask if any churches in this area would be interested.
First Baptist of Thorndale volunteered, followed by St. John Lutheran, Pleasant Retreat Methodist, Mount Zion Baptist, San Gabriel Baptist and San Gabriel Christian.
Once host churches had been decided, McBride started planning meetings and inviting volunteers to participate.
This year 215 youth participated from 13 different churches around the state, he said.
True to the programs mission statement to help the community at "no cost", Mpact pays for all of its expenses, including equipment and supplies.
"Kids pay to work," McBride said. The kids pay a participation fee that covers the food, entertainment, supplies, and equipment used during the week, he said.
One of McBride's goals is to develop lifelong missionaries from the youth who participate by giving them a vision for ministry.
Lewisville freshman Nichole Walker seem to be catching on to that vision.
She spent the day painting and mowing lawns because "it's important to share Christ's love" by helping people.
It was Walker's first year in the program and, like many of the youth, plans on returning next summer.
Youth like Uvalde senior Zac Wetegrove can also gain skills for college and their careers through the program.
Wetegrove has been a part of the program for five years and has been doing video editing for the past 2 years. He imports clips of the days' work and compiles them for a video for the participants to watch at the end and then sends copies to the churches.
Wetegrove plans on attending Full Sail University for video editing.
Some even return after college to serve in the program.
Jason Chrookham, an 11 year volunteer who began in the group as a youth and now serves as a youth minister, said the group is different because everyone, including pastors and worship leaders, works and worships together.
"One of the big differences is that if you go to World Changers or someplace like that, the worship leader and the speaker aren't out there serving with you, whereas here, the people are serving with you," he said.
So when you come to worship at night, its people that you serve along side with."
Chrookham said that the program creates a sense of family as students and leaders alike come together after work to worship.
"These people are the people you painted the house with," McBride said. "They drove your van for you. They broke the lawn mower with you. They helped you build that deck for that senior lady whose deck was falling to pieces."