Community Action Effort Softens Hearts

By   •   September 17, 2012

At first the couple thought it was a scam: “People aren’t going to come and help us without a reason,” the wife told her husband. “I think you should stay away.”

But, he didn’t listen, and by the end of the week, both husband and wife realized they were wrong.

It turns out that the handful of volunteers who repainted the couple’s home in Buffalo, N.Y., did so without expectation as part of a Rock the Lakes Community Action Project.

One particularly bubbly and outgoing volunteer named Kristen did talk about her faith as she worked alongside the man for the duration of the Aug. 20-25 project.

“God gave us opportunities to witness with who we were,” said Wanda McCurdy, Festival associate. “The countenance of the volunteers—greeting people and smiling—all of that went a long way to softening hearts.”

Indeed, after two days of basking in Kristen’s sunshine, the man accepted Christ as his Savior. A day later, the skeptical wife joined her husband in receiving Jesus. The couple even spent time fellowshipping with volunteers at the food tent.

“The Lord gave a lot of opportunities for the volunteers to minister to the people that they were helping,” said McCurdy. “A lot of seeds were planted.”

One woman who lost her husband as the projects got underway initially refused to open her home to the volunteers. But a doctor at the Jericho Road Medical Clinic encouraged her to be around people and accept the help that was being offered to her.

“Her transformation from when she lost her husband was remarkable,” said McCurdy. “Her whole countenance changed in a few days.”

Community Action Projects, which precede each Rock the Lakes event, are a way of reaching out to the un-churched community in a city and raising awareness for the Gospel message from Franklin Graham.

In Buffalo, the effort was co-led by Jim McGinnis and Daryl Boss. The team completed 41 projects in all. Neighborhood beautification efforts included painting, siding, rebuilding porches, roofing, landscaping and adding wheelchair ramps and gutters on 30 homes.

Volunteers also replaced the front doors on Prince of Peace Church, and in the Jericho Road Ministry parking lot, they built and filled planters, removed fence and cut down fence posts.

Stretching beyond helping homeowners, Rock the Lakes volunteers worked to beautify area landmarks including Buffalo Botanical Gardens, Allegany State Park, Old Fort Niagara, Buffalo History Museum, and the Buffalo Science Center.

On Saturday, as volunteers finished projects, they handed out invitations to Rock the Lakes. 

“The whole experience in Buffalo was such a God thing,” said McCurdy. “He even brought extra volunteers to us. We started off with just 79 confirmed names, plus about 30 more names from FM419.

“With so many projects planned,” she added, “we knew 109 people could never get all the work done. But God just started moving and people showed up after hearing about the projects from a friend or on the radio. Even the people who signed up for one shift ended up coming for several more days.”

By the end of the week, approximately 500 people had volunteered. 

“God supplied the hands and we got it all done,” said McCurdy.

Another praise concerns the safety of the volunteers who worked on homes. The neighborhood is home to the highest concentration of immigrants in Western New York. Cultures such as Nigerian, Sudanese, Burmese, Vietnamese, Colombian, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Puerto Rican, Russian and Italian, as well as African-American and European-American, live side by side, sometimes in conflict.

Although it sits in the shadow south of City Hall and police officers live in the area, shootings, robberies and drug dealing are common.

“We heard sirens all week but we did not have one incident,” said McCurdy. “God planted a hedge of protection around us and everyone was safe.”

You can hear the Gospel message from Franklin Graham and all the great music this weekend at at 4 p.m. ET each day.

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Youth are starved for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating to Rock the Lakes or other ministries.