Mission Makers

70 churches over 37 years built by hundreds of volunteers to reach thousands for the sake of the Gospel = Builders for Christ (BFC).

Karen Denenberg (center) from Meadow Brook Baptist nails roof shingles during Builders for Christ project in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

By the end of August 2017, eleven Baptist churches and organizations from the Birmingham area will have sent Builders for Christ (BFC) teams to Gatlinburg, Tenn. to help reconstruct the Worship Center and Family Life Center of Roaring Forks Baptist Church. Both buildings were destroyed in the fires that swept through the area last year. “It’s almost like a family reunion,” says Kellyann German, 4-year BFC veteran (Meadow Brook Baptist). Overall, teams will have come from 76 churches in 22 states bringing more than 1,800 volunteers including newcomers, seasoned veterans, families, teenagers, and couples. Some are skilled (e.g. home builders, engineers, architects) but the vast majority is non-skilled laborers (e.g. nurses, teachers, salespersons, homemakers). They come for one week to offer Kingship efforts nailing roof shingles, installing sheetrock, designing ductwork, sawing boards, and cutting metal supports. Regardless of the task, all come with willing hearts to serve and sweat.

Construction takes place between late May and mid-August every year. However, much planning has occurred earlier in the year through an extensive screening process. This year’s site selection was Gatlinburg, Tenn. Last year it was Greenfield, Wis. BFC has been all over the country building churches. “Every trip we encounter churches with different ministries and different needs,” says German. “This year’s trip was unusual in that it followed a disaster. Roaring Forks had an involved transportation and feeding ministry for children and that ministry needed to be able to continue.” German’s husband Brandon, a 6-year veteran, said he especially enjoyed doing HVAC because it taught him a lesson in the concept of serving. “HVAC is an unseen task; it is the epitome of servanthood to me.” Numerous others, when asked what they like, simply said it is a blessing.

Mike Foster from First Baptist Church Birmingham cutting support structures in the rebuilding of Roaring Forks Baptist, Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Lawrence Corley, founder of Builders for Christ and member of Brookwood Baptist, Birmingham, Ala. proudly admits, “I’ve never met a single person unless they were too feeble (he chuckles) who couldn’t help with construction.” Ken Howell (Meadow Brook Baptist) reinforces Corley’s statement. “You don’t have to be skilled to be of great help.” Corley quickly adds that volunteer cooks play a significant role. They feed volunteers three times a day with a grand slam breakfast, a sandwich/fruit lunch combo, and a dinner equivalent to a Thanksgiving meal. Between 300-500 meals/day are prepared throughout the fifteen weeks of construction.

“Serve Christ by serving His church,” that’s what the Germans say they do now every summer and urge others to do the same. For details on joining the mission visit www.baptistbuildersforchrist.org.

Karen Allen 

Author of Confronting Cancer with Faith, www.confrontingcancerwithfaith.com

 

 

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