The compassion of strangers comes to Italy

Image: Kenneth Copeland and Bryant Cockran of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church are blessed from others’ charity.

Kenneth Copeland and Bryant Cockran of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church are blessed from others’ charity. (Anne Sutherland)

If you drive to the corner of Clark and Harris Streets, you might be pleasantly surprised. There is a building being erected that appeared out of nowhere. One day it was an empty slab and the next day it was the beginning of a new church. On Monday morning, strangers moved into town to give Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church an awesome present.

On 7:30 Monday morning, 300 men, women and children converged in front of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church and started building a sanctuary like no other in town. Baptist Church Builders of Texas chose Mt. Gilead as one of the 2011 recipients for a gift of construction. Similar to the barn raising of the old West, missionaries and their families from all over the country come together for the benefit of one.

“At the end of April, God led us to this decision. We decided to come here and build as far and as much as we can. We frame, do the electrical, insulation, sheet rock and the roof and get as far as we can by Friday,” Construction Manager Jeremy Farber said. He has been with the church builders mission for four years, ever since they built his church in Weatherford. ’We have inspectors, details and build to the current codes," Farber said.

The Baptist Church Builders of Texas began in 1978 with 57 volunteers that traveled to Dillon, Montana from Texas to build. Since then, many churches have been built and completed in different areas of the nation. Their mission statement is: “To provide volunteer labor and guidance in order to build churches for smaller membership congregations so that God will be glorified and His kingdom extended.”

With about 40 churches involved, families take their vacation time and travel to the next construction site. “There is no burden on the church when we arrive. We stay in local motels or RV camps and feed ourselves. The church has nothing out of pocket, other than the building materials and the concrete slab that must be in place before the church builders arrive,” Farber explained. The local churches have to meet the guidelines and the builders come and move as fast they possibly can in 5 days.

Local church member, Bryant Cochran was almost speechless for the Church Builders to be here, “The main thing is the love of God and it really manifests through these builders. This Little Light Of Mine, the Sunday School song of most children, is these people and what they are doing. They are providing more than we expect from anybody,” Cochran smiled as he spoke.

James Woodall from Flint, Texas has been with the Church Builders for 6 years. “All different kinds of people come for construction. It is so amazing to start with a slab and in a day and a half, have the walls standing.”

One of the builders, Fred Cross from Snyder, has been with the mission builders since 1981. “I love to do this. You can see God move. Every year I plan the third week in July for this. I love to watch the local people. They are always awed by what they see and want to watch. The fact we are saving the congregation hundreds of thousands of dollars and meeting their needs is wonderful.”

The group meets at Stafford Elementary for their meals and have a team of cooks helping as well. “We planned for 300 but I think we counted 323,” said first year volunteer Cindy Ward of Wilshire Baptist Church of Dallas. “We have delicious, unbelievable meals.”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

When Jesus spoke these words, the disciples heard and passed them from generation to generation. The Baptist Church Builders of Texas go to different locations each year and help local churches fulfill their purpose and mission because God has led them to go and spread this command. Along with the gift of construction, the congregation of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church has met new friends and felt the love of total strangers. The common denominator is Christ’s love for all the people. Blessings will follow the strangers when they leave our small town but will always have a home right here. God bless them on their journeys.

To find out more information about the Baptist Church Builders of Texas, please visit their website.