Over 200 teenagers from the Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston, are in East Texas to rebuild and restore churches.
In a small neighborhood in Big Sandy, the whirl of power drills and the rhythmic pounding of hammers broke the early morning quiet. For the fourth and final day the teenagers were there serving others.
"We're a big church, we have over 6,000 members," said Steve Cragg, Director of Youth Ministries for the Memorial Drive United Methodist Church. "We find a smaller place where we can come in and make a big impact. So we come and just start knocking on doors."
They knocked on the doors of the Hoskins Chapel CME Church and the Rock of Calvary Apostolic church.
Over the past days, the group worked in the rain and humidity, painting, building a playground, adding a roof and sides to the frame of an unfinished sanctuary, and creating sidewalks so Sunday morning worshippers won't have to walk in the mud.
"It's a good feeling knowing that they came from not having much, like bad painting, no sidewalks just grass," said youth worker Bobby Jacobs. "Then to know when we leave it will freshly painted and then there will be a sidewalk and new shingles."
"I just can't put it into words what it means to this ministry to have someone to come to do the work," said Rock of Calvary Pastor Linda Austin, "and with the attitude to want to do the work, just happy in doing what they are doing."
Pastor Austin's church choir will now sing their hymns in front a handcrated mosaic, representing the ascension of Jesus into heaven.
She hopes the churches' new look will bring a new dedication of faith in the community.
"There's something about when people come in to beautify God's house," she said. "It is a new beginning. The beginning started with wonderful people so wonderful people can only come into the ministry, people that have a desire to work for God, people that have a desire to see the kingdom of God grow."
When they come, that new beginning and the hard work of hundreds of Houston teenagers will be there to welcome them.
A second crew from Houston worked on two churches in Gilmer. The teens have helped repair churches across Texas, Lousiana and one in Mexico.
Story by Maya Golden, firstname.lastname@example.org
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