Pastor George Gibbs said his ministry, Greater World Outreach, didn’t invent recycling but is definitely taking it to another level.
The nonprofit organization aims to reach out to third-world countries, helping to build churches, schools and clinics, teaching trades and developing agriculture by using money received from recycled items.
About a year and a half ago Gibbs traveled to Liberia, West Africa, to visit churches planted there by a Georgia-based church called Greater Love.
He said after seeing the heart of people crying out for help, learning that many children there live with no education and a lot of prayer, the Lord laid on his heart to help.
He believed in it so much, he even quit his job, and it has become a full-time job for him and his wife, Virginia.
"Whatever I do, God supports me," he said. "We work this like a job every day and don’t get paid for it."
What inspired Gibbs the most were stories from native teachers and parents who attend the Greater World churches in Liberia.
He said they told him about children going to schools that exploit the children with no money by testing them on subjects they weren‘t taught so they would fail.
With a 85 percent unemployment rate, a 25 percent literacy rate and a 50 percent attendance rate, the country’s statistics fuel Gibbs’ ambition even more.
"Without education there’s no hope for the children, just breeding more poverty," Gibbs said. "That really broke my heart."
When Newton residents recycle under the organization’s name at the Covington & Newton Recycling Center, 5144 Turner St., a check is sent after every 90 days toward its cause.
"From the recycling they (Liberians) have hope," he said.
Once the money is received, it goes into an account for Greater World Outreach, which will then be taken personally by Gibbs and his partners to Liberia to get schools built.
They will be there to make sure the money isn’t just pocketed but put toward the construction expenses.
Besides money, items like trucks and computers are also needed.
"We need anything you don’t want," Gibbs said. "We give tax deductible write-offs."
Gibbs also said Greater World Outreach needs everybody it can get to sign up as partner.
"People are scared that we’ll ask for money," said Gibbs, who explained that all the group really needs are the individual’s name and e-mail.
This is because partners receive a newsletter about once a month with updates about the mission work. The newsletter serves as a way to say thank you.
Gibbs stressed that the organization is set up so anyone can be as big or as small a part of it as they would like to be.
"This is not my organization or my wife’s organization … God told me to start this," he said.
As the ministry continues to grow, Gibbs realizes recycling centers are harder to find than people to recycle, but the organization is working on involving sites in Conyers where they’ll take metal, cars and old junk.
Ultimately, the hope is for the recycling effort to go national and for Greater World Outreach to incorporate other churches, Gibbs said.
Potential missions for the group include planting a church in Egypt and helping with an orphanage in Nigeria.
"We just need the money," Gibbs said.
Visit www.greaterworldoutreach.org to sign up to be a partner, see photos and get information about donating and recycling. Gibbs can be reached by phone at (678) 233-7516 or through his e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.