“With brush in hand”
Surprise! I am giving the sermon this morning. This was my birthday gift to Pastor Pete. You’re welcome Pete!
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in my second Brethren Disaster Ministries work camp with the Mid-Atlantic district young adults. I am going to take the next few minutes or so to tell you about what we did this year.
The work camp site is in Columbia, South Carolina. Our young adult group was combined with an older adult group from Westminster Church of the Brethren. When we all had arrived at the BDM work camp site, we were greeted by our project leaders Steve Keim, Kim Gingerich, and Sammy Deacon. The whole group gathered together and were given an overview of what we were working on throughout the week. Steve shared with us that there was massive flooding in early October 2015, caused by hurricane Joaquin. There was a record seventeen inches of rainfall just in Columbia. After the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in South Carolina received over 100,000 registrations for aid from those affected by the storm. All homes in a flood zone needed to be rebuilt from the ground up so that their home was several feet off the ground. Somewhere around 5,000 homes still need to be worked on.
Our big group was separated into smaller groups and assigned different work sites. The work sites my group went to were in Eastover, South Carolina. Monday morning, we worked at the first of two houses. The young adults went into a four-foot crawl space under the house to cut and hang insulation. A fun fact is that if the crawl space was a few inches higher, I could have stood up all the way. Shows you just how height challenged I am. My height comes in handy sometimes! Also, the insulation looks like pink cotton candy, which made my fellow work camper Miriah and I want to go eat some. Just wanted to add a little bit of fun to this sermon. After a few hours, we completed our insulation task and moved onto the next home about five minutes away. The second house is the home we worked in for the rest of the week. I spent the week sanding walls throughout the home to prepare for primer and paint, which I did a lot of too. Luckily, our week at camp was not all work. After a full day of work, we travelled back to the BDM site, ate dinner, listened to a devotional, and had time to play card or board games. Game time was awesome, especially when the entire group, young adults and older adults, were sitting around the table laughing and having a good time. We all go to know and connected with each other so well through work and play.
While I want to give insight on what the week was like, there is an important message I want to give. One of the homes we worked on for the week is owned by a woman named Elease Jones. We were blessed to meet her and hear a little of her story. Miss. Jones has not lived in her home for two years since the flood happened. It was originally owned by her mother, so she was devastated when her house had to be rebuilt from the ground up. It was a blessing to meet this woman and make a connection with her. Miss Jones was very kind and appreciative of us coming to work in her home. She even provided us lunch two days in a row, which is a common thing that citizens do in the Eastover area. To be able to meet Miss Jones completed our time of work. Sure, it is nice to help rebuild a home. However, for us to offer our prayers to her and for her to say how much she appreciated our work is a sign that God’s love is in us.
On the back of all the Brethren Disaster Ministries t-shirts, including the one I am wearing today, is a bible verse from Galatians. Part of chapter five, verse thirteen, says, “serve one another in love.” Serve one another in love. Serve each other and our communities not just with a paint brush stroke or a hammer to a wall. Serve with love to each other. Work camp is not just about providing service, it’s about the connections we make with and the love we give to God’s people. Express how much you appreciate each other and spread love. Not just love, but God’s love. Following Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen, the passage goes on to say, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love your neighbor as yourself. Reach out to others in need thinking about how you would feel if you were in the same situation. And you do not need to attend a work camp to do this. Work camps are a great thing, but we can do this our own neighborhoods and local communities. We all have the capability to make a difference in someone’s life, just like our work camp group did in Miss Jones’ life. Serve one another and make connections while doing so. Amen?
©2017 Meghan Knight