“We’re so excited about them coming,” said Bishop Michael Truss, the pastor of New Birth Christian Center in Oxford. “I’m very honored to have them amongst us, not only for the building, but for the testimony.”
Since Thursday, members of the Piedmont chapter of Carpenters for Christ have been hard at work constructing a new fellowship hall for the New Birth Christian Center, a project that’s scheduled to wrap up June 6. The 5,000-square foot facility will also house offices, a conference room and five or six Sunday school classrooms. A breezeway will connect it to the existing facility, which includes a worship center, four Sunday school classrooms and a small kitchen. The church provided the materials, and Carpenters for Christ volunteered the labor to complete the construction.
When the volunteers arrived, the only part of the new facility in place was a concrete slab. By next Thursday, the Carpenters plan to have completed the roof system, outside walls, insulation, some rough plumbing and electrical elements and possibly dry wall.
Truss estimated 75 to 100 men have volunteered their time.
“Not only do they sacrifice their vacation time to come serve the church, they also pay a fee to come do this,” he added.
Each volunteer donated $135 to participate. Carpenters for Christ project coordinator Michael Maddox said the money helps pay for updated construction and kitchen equipment, as well as meals for the week.
The 48-foot Carpenters for Christ trailer on Gunnels Lane will serve as the team’s kitchen, and a staff of 10 is preparing three meals a day for the men. Women from the community have donated their time as well, making desserts and washing clothes for the volunteers, who are staying at DeArmanville First Baptist Church.
“These men are so thankful to everyone for all they do for us during the course of this week,” Maddox said. “It is awesome the way the community reaches out to help this church and us by providing essentials such as showers and lodging. Locals have welcomed us with words of encouragement and personally praying with us in local establishments.”
The ministry of Carpenters for Christ began with a group of 35 in Mt. Rest, S.C., in 2002. For more than a decade, the organization has built church facilities, fellowship halls and education spaces across the South. The ministry, which is made up of men from a variety of occupational and denominational backgrounds, continues to grow each year, as witnesses to each new project are drawn to serve themselves.
Although members of different Christian faiths, the men come together at sunrise each day for a time of prayer and instruction.
“This is the way we start each morning, we pray first to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for his safety throughout the day and then I direct the men on what we need to accomplish,” said Jason Williams, the Oxford project construction leader.
The volunteers work throughout the day, breaking for lunch and dinner, which includes a time for prayer requests and devotion. At the end of the day, they once again gather together for prayer.
While New Birth’s new facility should be complete by Thursday, Truss said the impact of Carpenters for Christ is felt through much more than the construction.
“They also build lives because of their testimony,” he said. “Lives have been changed because of the word that they sow.”