Oconee Outreach Opportunity helps neighbors in Nashville
By Rev. J. Michael Finn
Fifteen youth and adults from four United Methodist Churches in South Georgia came to Nashville during the week of June 16. They came to help a home owner make needed repairs to her home that she was physically and financially unable to make. Pastors and members of Colquitt, Burns Memorial (Cotton), Friendship (Donalsonville) and Nashville United Methodist Churches came together to serve God through Oconee Outreach Opportunity (OOO) in Nashville.
OOO was founded by the Rev. Garth Duke-Barton in 2003. In that first year a group of 20 volunteers worked together to begin the mission of repairing homes for homeowners who are physically or financially unable to do so themselves. In the 11 years since, more than 120 homes and churches have been repaired by more than 1,000 youth and adult volunteers. In addition to making needed repairs to homes during the day, volunteers spend time together in the evenings worshipping and sharing from their experiences during the day.
On Sunday, June 22, 16-year-old Caleb Finn, of Nashville, shared with the Nashville UMC congregation: “Oconee means so much to me. It’s a great way to learn more about God. Every day after we were done working and had time to cool off in the pool, we had worship. It was awesome. We usually sang ‘Do Something’ by Matthew West. In the middle of that song it says, ‘I’m sick and tired of life with no desire. I don’t want a flame, I want a fire.’ I really like that part of that song because he is saying he doesn’t want to do just enough, he wants to do more. We could’ve just repaired the siding, or just fixed the bathroom, or just painted, but we did it all because we want to do more than just enough for God and other people.” He went on to say, “Oconee went by so fast this year. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”
During one of the week’s evening worship services, his sister, 19-year-old Abigail Finn, shared with her fellow missioners: “Last year the home we repaired in Resaca had a section of the roof missing. I always took a roof for granted. God used that to show me all the good things I just take for granted, like having a good roof on my house.”
Rev. Michael Finn, pastor of Nashville United Methodist Church, said, “Oconee Outreach Opportunity changes lives. It not only improves the lives of the home owners for whom the repairs are made, it also changes the lives of those who serve as missioners. After a few days working on site, the word ‘need’ has a whole new meaning.”
Rev. Garth Duke-Barton, founder of OOO and pastor of Friendship United Methodist Church in Donalsonville, said, “Each summer when we do Oconee Outreach Opportunity it is a continuation of a lifelong passion for me. Mission work began for me when I was 13. Today at 42 I have seen the inside of over 150 homes and churches while sweating and bleeding for the Lord. Most of the volunteers are teenagers, as I was years ago. Over the years, several of the youth have grown up and returned to work with us because they understood what a difference they have made and want to share that experience with others. Our hope is that we can grow OOO in Nashville to make an even larger impact in the years to come.”
For more information on the Nashville Camp of Oconee Outreach Opportunity, to support the mission, or to participate in its 2015 camps, contact Rev. Michael Finn, pastor of Nashville United Methodist Church and Director of the Nashville Camp of OOO, at 229- 686-7494