New group providing missionary work in Lincoln

June 10, 2004|EMILY BURTON

MCKINNEY — A new Lincoln County missionary organization is bringing the good will and endless energy of local youth back into their own communities, changing more than just homescapes. Near McKinney this week, the sound of circular saws could be heard over the passing train as the Lincoln County Changers built a front porch and hung siding for neighbors in need.

Complete with derelict locations and stifling humidity, the mission trip lacked nothing but the passports and an in-flight movie.

The idea for an intra-county mission trip was born from similar philanthropy projects out of state, said project coordinator Keith Kirkpatrick.

“We need to stay in Lincoln County cause there’s need like this at home,” said Kirkpatrick. “We felt led to do local ministries at home.”

The focus is the Lord, said participants, not just fresh paint and siding.

“It’s not really just limited to construction. Our purpose really is to witness to the homeowner,” let the kids socialize between denominations and learn about their community, said Kirkpatrick.


“(I’m here) so I could serve the Lord, I always like to do his will, and I knew he led me to do this,” said volunteer Tyler Dunn.

Dunn joined approximately 45 other youth volunteers from churches around the county participating in the non-denominational event.

Eleven homes were carefully selected for the project by local parishioners from a stack of 28 applications and Polaroids said Kirkpatrick.

“We laid them all out on the pool table and walked around them seven times,” as Biblical Joshua had done to the walls of Jericho, said Kirkpatrick. And suddenly their obstacles came tumbling down.

“We knew going into this, and had enough faith, we never worried about the money,” said Kirkpatrick.

Churches gave donations, sponsored youth, volunteered to cook for the crews or drop off peanut butter sandwiches to job sites. Stanford Baptist Church was able to provide lodging for the week. Donations of food, money and construction supplies poured in.

“We’ve had an individual hand us $50 and $100. They say, ‘I know I can’t do anything but I want to help’,” said Kirkpatrick. “A lot of them have prayed for us.”

What couldn’t be bought was given freely. Commitments of time and expertise were given by members of the community, some taking days away from their careers to help.

“It’s worth doing ...” said volunteer Joe Martin, a land manager at First Southern National Bank. “It’s important to make some time to do some good, help your community.”

But its not about their personal donations, stressed Martin and Kirkpatrick. A larger good was at work in Lincoln County this week.

“It’s not about me, it’s about God, and these kids, and helping the homeowners. Making them feel better about their own environments,” said Kirkpatrick as he surveyed their progress at the end of another sweltering workday. Broken couches still littered the yard, but much of the trash had been removed from the lot. The trailer’s decrepit siding was disappearing under white vinyl and the fresh-cut railing of the new front porch was going up. “I just really feel like, when we walk away from this house, she’ll feel a little better about her home.”

“Even being out here in this hot weather, and working to death, It’s still a reward,” agreed Dunn. “It’s not work to me, I feel like it’s a joy to be out here.”

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