A Builders For Christ project is building more than homes on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. It’s also building learning opportunities for local residents and a chance for volunteers to show Christian love in action.
Anna Sherod, Kingdom Workers’ field manager for the White Mountain and San Carlos Apache Reservations in Arizona, discovered this opportunity when church and community members approached her for help with their homes after they noticed construction projects to improve WELS church properties on the reservation. She started looking at housing statistics and realized that many homes were in extreme disrepair, overcrowded, and unsafe to live in. This led to a connection with the local Tribal Housing Authority, who was fighting an uphill battle to keep up with requests for help. “We talked to them about how we could piggyback on efforts that were already happening and try to add extra manpower to them,” she says.
Enter Builders For Christ (BFC), an arm of Kingdom Workers that offers volunteer labor to help build churches and other facilities. BFC volunteers came in for four weeks in 2016 and six weeks in 2017 to rebuild houses on the reservation. In 2017, 26 BFC volunteers over the course of those six weeks worked on three homes from demolition to dry wall, complete with electrical and plumbing hook-ups—close to move-in ready. “By us putting in extra labor on these three homes, [the Tribal Housing Authority] is able to save enough money to renovate another three homes in this calendar year,” says Sherod.
But that’s just a start in the difference these volunteers are making. Through community focus groups, Sherod also discovered that there is 75 percent underemployment or unemployment on the reservation. “People needed things to do in the community that were constructive and meaningful,” she says. These building projects gave local church and community volunteers an opportunity to work on something productive, keep up their construction skills, and get further job-skill training from experienced BFC craftsmen.
“And whenever you get a BFC team in a location, you’re going to have incredible opportunities for fellowship and spiritual strengthening,” says Sherod. Besides daily conversations between the workers, lunchtime devotions conducted by pastors from the local WELS churches offered hope and comfort from God’s Word.
Projects like these don’t only help the local communities—they also motivate and encourage the BFC volunteers. Howard and Nancy Wilch, members at Trinity, Jenera, Ohio, volunteered both years to help on the Apache reservation. “We were blessed with the opportunity to not only rebuild Apache homes, but more important we were blessed with the opportunity to share our faith with the Apache people,” says Howard. “During Holy Week we were able to attend church with our fellow believers in Christ and were able to take Communion together. What an awesome experience to share Christ with both our volunteers and the Apaches.”
Kingdom Workers spreads the gospel by mobilizing Christians to create locally sustainable ministries addressing spiritual and physical needs in communities around the world. Do you want to volunteer? Learn about available Kingdom Workers’ opportunities at kingdomworkers.com/opportunities.
Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.
Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.
Volume 104, Number 6
Issue: June 2017
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us