IT ALL STARTED WITH PRAYER! The construction of our church building had reached the point where a little help would go a long way, and the congregation had been praying for resources (both workers and finances). A short time later, I received a call from Robert Spruill, a friend from my days at Free Will Baptist Bible College. He asked if we could use the assistance of a short-term missions group from the Bethel FWB Church, Kinston, NC. We discussed several possibilities, ranging from construction projects to outreach ministries. He told me to expect a call from the team leader.
As promised, days later I received a call from Bud Edwards offering help with our building project. When I asked if he could lay floor tile, He replied that he had 25 years of flooring experience. During the coming weeks we made plans for his team to spend a week in Fredericton working on our building. They agreed to lay tile, build the pulpit platform, install the baptistry, and erect a partition wall.
On Saturday evening, June 11, nine men crossed the border into Canada. Although we were concerned about complications due to tightened security, they sailed right through. An hour later they arrived at the church, completing a two-day trip. They immediately began sizing up the situation. Measurements were taken, equipment was unloaded, and arrangements for accommodations completed.
We worshiped together on Sunday then enjoyed a cookout. This was the only time some of our church members had an opportunity to meet the team.
When I arrived at the building site on Monday morning just before 7:00 a.m., the building was already buzzing with workers. The floor of the main sanctuary had been lined off, and the center row of tiles was being laid. Plans for the pulpit and baptistry areas had been analyzed and materials lists made. The greatest challenge facing the team was the order of construction. Because the current sanctuary will be used until only a larger one is needed, the floor area under the pulpit had to be finished (tiled, grouted, and allowed to dry) before construction could begin on the pulpit itself.
Achieving multiple goals while keeping all the workers busy required a detailed coordination of efforts. Specific goals had to be met every day, and the hours were brutally long and hard. What did these volunteers accomplish in just over four days? They laid 3,600 square feet of floor tile in six rooms, constructed the pulpit area, set the baptistry in place, and erected a twelve-foot wall. In short, our prayers were answered in an amazing way. As a result we anticipate being in the building several months earlier.
But, that is not all. They convinced two men staying in their hostel (lodging) to attend a worship service with them.
Using personal time and personal money, nine men invested in God’s kingdom effort. Was it easy? No. Tylenol and ibuprofen were staples for the week, yet the team worked without complaint.
Was it rewarding? Let me put it this way. The mission team is already looking for another place to serve. And now, some of our men wonder if God could use them as well. Why not? With God, anything is possible!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff and Donna Crabtree serve as Free
Will Baptist church planters in Fredericton,
New Brunswick, Canada. Jeff is also a
member of the Sunday School and Church