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WMU volunteers focus on 6 cities for Habitat houses, ministry projects

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–More than 300 Woman’s Missionary Union volunteers from 32 states came together in six cities across the nation July 11-24 to build seven houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity International.
But the builds resulted in more than homes for seven deserving homeowners. They also provided an opportunity for the volunteers to share the gospel message through a variety of ministry projects and to build Christian fellowship with one another.
The six cities benefiting from the builds were Albuquerque, N.M.; Cleveland, Ohio; Franklin, W.Va.; Pine Ridge, S.D.; Portland, Ore.; and Jackson, Miss., where two houses were built.
In addition to building houses, volunteers also participated in ministry projects, including street evangelism, door-to-door visitation and canvassing, prayerwalking, backyard Bible clubs, sports clinics, health fairs and revival services. At most of the sites, volunteers worked in four- to six-hour shifts on the house and spent the other portion of the day helping with a ministry project.
“We came together this week to build two houses, but we’ve also built up the kingdom of God,” declared Rebecca Williams, president of Mississippi WMU, during the dedication of one of two houses July 17 in Jackson. She also noted the 106 professions of faith and 10 other decisions recorded during ministry and evangelistic efforts held there.
While each site operated differently and worked on a different construction schedule, they all featured enthusiastic, hard-working women, men and youth.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Niece Edwards, a member of First Baptist Church, Carmi, Ill., on Wednesday of her week (July 11-17) at the Cleveland site. “I love being a part of a trip like this. You meet a lot of different people and the experience is good for you personally.
“It’s also frightening,” she added. “I don’t have a lot of experience in construction work so I’m afraid I’m going to make a mistake. Thankfully, there’s always someone around who can give you help.”
Gary Jennings, pastor of East Taylorsville Baptist Church, Taylorsville, N.C., was one of several men who came with WMU members from the church. Along with lending support to the women and providing a “few strong backs,” Jennings said the project has given the group good experience in Habitat builds.
“We are just starting a Habitat chapter in Alexander County,” he explained. “We felt this project would give us the training we needed to go back and build the first-ever Habitat houses at home. We now have a team who has worked on a blitz together so we can pull them in on those projects.”
Jennings said he is not surprised by WMU’s partnership with Habitat. “This is another example of what WMU is capable of doing and what they’ve always been doing,” he said. “I think it is hands-on missions. It’s not theory anymore — not missions somewhere else done by somebody else. We went on mission and that is what it is all about.”
National WMU President Wanda Lee, who worked at the Cleveland site July 12-16, said, “I believe the goals we had for this partnership have been realized. We wanted the partnership to be one more way to challenge our women to allow Christ to minister through them with something as basic as providing a house for a family in need. We also hoped it would give them the confidence to return home and duplicate what they have learned on the sites through their churches and associations.
“The houses that were built through this national project will be a constant physical reminder of our love and concern for these families and communities,” Lee said. “But more importantly, I pray that the spiritual seeds that were planted through the various ministry projects will have an eternal significance in the lives of people touched by them.”
*Name changed for security concerns.

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