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FBC Williams rebuilds area homes debt-freecomment (0)

October 6, 2011

By Julie Payne

First Baptist Church, Williams, immediately leapt into action after the devastating April 27 tornadoes, and the congregation’s devotion continues with ongoing efforts to rebuild area homes destroyed by the storms.

According to Pastor Mike Oliver, the areas of Ohatchee and Pleasant Valley were both hit hard.

So the church opened its doors to those affected by the storms, offering everything from child care and tetanus shots to counseling and prayer. The gym was transformed into a clothes distribution center, bustling with endless volunteer activity.

Oliver said the church was serving 400 per meal on average.

After that initial phase of providing relief, First, Williams, dove into a recovery phase by helping rural residents obtain temporary housing.

Oliver heard about one particular family who had lost its home. The church began to ask what it could do to help, and he thought about how wonderful it would be if someone stepped up to donate a mobile home to the family. Soon after he began the process of seeking donors, three mobile homes appeared.

Once those mobile homes were given away, First, Williams, shifted its focus to building new homes for those whose homes were destroyed by the storms.

With six builders in the congregation, funds from donations and grants and volunteers, the church assessed the costs involved in construction and began building — along with the help of other churches and volunteer groups and a contractor overseeing each project — $50,000 homes that span about 1,400 square feet.

The houses are debt-free — and fully decorated thanks to a group of women who help furnish them.

And with the assistance of volunteers from universities like Belmont in Nashville and churches of different denominations and in different states, Oliver said that houses are built in as little as two months.

After construction is complete, each new home is dedicated in a ceremony with singing and celebration. A quilting guild gives the family a quilt. In addition, the family is given a Bible and a crocheted cross made by a member of First, Williams.

Not only has First, Williams, been able to help families get back into homes but Oliver said the church also has built many meaningful relationships with churches and missions teams through the experience.

He cited one example when a church team from Macon, Ga., arrived a few weeks ago to help with construction. A senior adult from the group pulled him aside one day and told him she had always been homesick but just loved being there to help. “I’m definitely coming back,” Oliver recalled her saying.

So far, six homes have been completed: three mobile homes and three built from the ground up.

Oliver said as long as funding continues, the house-building mission will continue.

“It’s important to not forget these rural areas,” he noted.

Oliver added that one of the greatest lessons he has learned from this endeavor is that helping others has renewed their sense of hope, as well as their belief that the Church is relevant.

“This has led into a brand-new area of ministry for our church,” Oliver said.

For more information, contact the church at 256-435-5020.

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