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Bristol churches work together on housing projects

Benham's Circuit experienced a "five loaves and two fishes" moment when we tried to repair a family's mobile home that was in such bad shape, we finally deemed it irreparable. 

Just after we started looking for a replacement home, we received a small endowment for just such a project. With partial funding, we then had to convince the property owner to destroy the current home and allow us to give his tenant (who rented from him) a replacement home. Once he learned of our intent, he agreed. 

We found a used mobile home nearby, but soon discovered that it would require 80 percent of our funds just to purchase the home. This left us with the bulk of the costs to move and set up the home (equal to our entire original endowment). Essentially, we only had half of what we would need, but we proceeded anyway. 

After hearing what we were trying to do with the "new" home, the seller reduced the price by 50 percent, leaving us half our initial funds to move and set up the home. He also gave us most of the furniture and all of the appliances, including an almost new washer and dryer. 

Rev. Curtis Frye (above, left) stands with a family whose home was repaired by United Methodist churches in Bristol.

During the initial review of the home that needed replacement, one of our church families witnessed the horrible conditions, stepped up, and paid the entire balance of the sell price. With God's intervention (and we knew it was God at work!), we had obtained the home at no cost from our endowment and still had all of our funds to move and set up the home. 

Once others in the community learned we were helping people in this way, we had two new projects brought to us. After discussing our needs and heavy commitment with them, our friends at Beech Grove United Methodist Church and Three Springs United Methodist Church jumped in and agreed to assist with drywall for the second home and heating for the third. 

Even though we were overcommitted for our first project, we still framed and repaired the structure of the second home and then installed a new roof on it. While we were working on that house, we had other people stop by to provide some unexpected donations. Once the second home was completed, we had used one-fourth of our funds yet had received enough donations that we were back to 70 percent of our original endowment. 

We then interviewed contractors to move and relocate the home and quickly discovered from quotes that it would take double the original endowment just to move the home. That left us with the part of the moving cost and all of the costs to hook it up and underpin it, but we proceeded anyway. During the site preparation, another person unexpectedly became involved with the needy family and donated all of his time, labor, and supplies for the move. The replacement home was in place and we still had 70 percent of our original funds! 

We had to pay the city to hook up the power (yes, they did take our money!) but we still had half of our original funds to purchase materials and underpin the home. Once we began that work, the church family that originally paid for the purchase of the home then purchased all the necessary supplies and, with volunteers, we installed the underpinning. We also adjusted and reinstalled the original handicap ramps and porches. 

After we thought we were done, we then received a donation for new windows, furniture, and bedding. 

Through God's grace, the help of our friends at Beech Grove and Three Springs, and many other volunteers and donations, we had obtained goods and services worth three times our original endowment and still had over half of our original funds to be put to use for other community service projects. 

Our God is so great.

The Rev. Curtis Frye, pastor of Mary's Chapel Union, Booher's Chapel and Campground United Methodist Churches

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are Engaging in ministry with the poor with their communities in ways that are transformative.

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