A group of visiting teenagers descended upon North Little Rock during the week of June 10-14 to assist residents here who were either physically or financially unable to maintain their homes.
"Instead of sleeping late or hanging out by the pool, these teens were building wheelchair ramps, fixing roofs, clearing brush and painting," said Bailey Faulkner, the Executive Director of Ozark Mission Project, the organization that sponsored the community building projects.
The teens spent their nights at Lakewood United Methodist Church.
"They borrowed showers at church members’ homes," said Faulkner. Meanwhile, teenagers from Lakewood UMC traveled to West Memphis to work there.
The Ozark Mission Project began 21 years ago at Lakewood UMC in North Little Rock.
"Over 5,000 repaired homes later, it has blossomed into a dozen camps with over 600 teens living in churches, eating donated food and borrowing homes each evening to take showers," said Joe Roitz of Lakewood UMC.
Last year, the OMP campers here in North Little Rock did 46 projects for 37 neighbors in one week, including seven wheel chair ramps, three porches, two sheds, 14 yard work projects and 18 homes painted, she said.
In 2013, 41 homes were worked on by teenagers in North Little Rock.
Ozark Mission Project (OMP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit mission of the Arkansas Area United Methodist Church, organized for ministry to "persons in need" in response to Jesus Christ’s call to servanthood.
OMP’s vision is to be a Christ-led mission opportunity offering a diverse cultural experience that equips youth to make a global difference.
"We bring church youth groups to campsites around Arkansas where they, in turn, serve people in the surrounding communities," said Faulkner.
In 1986, OMP began with one camp and 35 participants. Since then, OMP has hosted 12 camps each summer, serving all four corners of Arkansas, and an annual college-aged mission trip outside the state.
"In the spirit of Christ, these youth and adults serve individuals and families, called neighbors, who are in need of minor construction and yard work," said Faulkner. "In addition to the physical service projects, we strive to meet social and emotional needs by spending part of our time visiting, sharing lunch and a devotional with our neighbor, if the neighbor so chooses. OMP does not demand specific requirements, such as race, age, income or religion, in the selection of our neighbors."
Faulkner added, that the purpose of OMP is:
• To be a helping hand to those, who, for financial or physical reasons, cannot maintain their homes;
• To meet the spiritual, social and emotional needs of these persons;
• To help develop spiritual, social and emotional wholeness in our campers;
• To encourage our campers to put their faith in action in their local churches and communities.
"Our mission is transforming lives through worship, fellowship and hands-on mission," Faulkner said.