In January, a group of people who had participated in mission teams over the past year was invited to help in a mission project right in our own area. No long distance travel or extended absences from home responsibilities would be required.
The project, right on the edge of Toledo, was to retrofit an older church building into a sort of community center approach with the hope of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ in a less formal setting – where people of all ages would be comfortable.
Looking ahead, the schedule of days to be worked was usually in one- or two-day increments. People could come on those days as it suited their own convenience. Any and every skill would be needed. Lunch would be provided.
Work would begin with clean-up during which old carpet would be pulled out and clutter put in the Dumpster. That went well, and by afternoon workers were prepping walls for painting. As soon as an area was ready, someone was rolling paint. One group was building a wall while another was removing one.
Over the months since that first day, team members have continued to work as they were able to fit it into their schedules.
One man and I were the only octogenarians in the group. He seemed able to do most things, while I found the physical activity more challenging. Sometimes, I was the “errand boy” making trips to a building supply store or Walmart, picking up needed items.
Finally, I offered to plan, prepare, set up, and clean up after lunch on every working day. That set another lady free to do physical labor I can no longer do. I had finally found where I could contribute to the team.
While there is still work to be done, the finish line is in sight.
Work crews have gone from 14 on the first day down to five or six. One day, there were only three of us. That day, we ate from McDonald’s menu. I’m still providing lunch and working at cleaning up and running the dust mop and/or vacuum cleaner. Every time we work, we leave the building clean and ready for the next service. It is still used as a worship center by the small and dwindling congregation.
Recently, all who have had any part in the re-do, whether one day or every day, were treated to an appreciation dinner. Dinner was great, and the fellowship without tools in hand, or even in sight, was wonderful.
Until nearing this end of the project, I hadn’t realized how much I really needed the time to feel useful once again, the time to share others’ burdens, the time to be in ministry.
If nothing else would ever develop from this project, I have been renewed and refreshed by being part of this giving, sharing team, and I’m grateful. I trust the small part I played in this project will in some way be used to bring another person into the family of God through believing in His Son, Jesus.
By the way, the church we’ve worked on is named Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.” He has certainly proven His presence to me, as I know He will to others as well.