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Choctaw Association men share Christ through consistent construction projectscomment (0)

July 19, 2007

By Dee Ann Campbell

Our mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ is to begin at our ‘Jerusalem’ and to carry the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth,” said Franklin McLelland, director of missions for Choctaw Baptist Association.

For Choctaw Baptists in June, the “uttermost parts of the earth” meant the home of an elderly black woman in the northern part of Choctaw County.

In February, it meant a burned-out church in Sumter County. Last year, it meant the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

These and others in need have been shown the love of Christ through the hammers of Choctaw Association’s Men on Missions team. Organized in 2000, the team was set up to assist those who need home repairs but are financially and/or physically unable to do the work themselves.

Under the leadership of Billy May, Men on Missions has provided assistance ranging from minor home repairs that take a few hours to larger construction projects like roof replacements that may take several days to complete.

According to May, a member of Chappell Hill Baptist Church, Gilbertown, the team — made up of volunteers from Baptist churches  and churches of other denominations across the county — has completed some 50 projects since it began, with more pending.

With skills ranging from construction and plumbing to electrical work and painting, the volunteers donate their time, usually provide their own transportation and bring their own tool belts to complete the projects. Funds for the projects have come solely through donations from local individuals and churches.
“We haven’t had any problem getting the money to do a project,” May said. “We’ve always gotten the money when it was needed.”

The majority of the projects completed by the group in the past two years have been storm-related as Choctaw County suffered structural damage to homes and businesses when Hurricane Ivan struck the area in 2004 and again during Katrina in 2005.

Although the large majority of the projects completed by Men on Missions have involved houses in their home county, the group has also reached out to assist the needy in other areas.

Following Katrina, the men traveled on several occasions to assist in cleanup and repair projects along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

In February of this year, their efforts reached into nearby Sumter County to help with the reconstruction of Galilee Baptist Church in Panola, one of the nine churches burned by arsonists in 2006.

The team traveled to the church on two consecutive Saturdays to perform projects ranging from the construction of the pulpit and choir loft to laying the flooring and constructing walls for portions of the building.

Its most recent project — completed just a few weeks ago — involved replacing the roof of a woman who could not afford to pay for the work.

According to McLelland, her response following completion of the project was validation of the reason the Men on Missions group was formed.

“She said, ‘There are still some good folks in this world,’” he said.

“Billy’s response to her was, ‘We are just doing what our Lord Jesus Christ told us to do — go in His name and help one another in a time of need.’”

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