Kingdom Builders ministry impacts Boone with talent, skills
by Sherrie Norris
The nondenominational youth ministry travels around the country — and beyond — each summer doing good works from its home base in Statesboro, Ga.
The ministry started in Boone during the summer of 1999, when more than 100 teenagers and adults gathered for a week to repair homes, visit nursing homes, offer help at a local thrift store and homeless shelter and perform lawn maintenance.
The community service model returned to life the following year in Statesboro, where more than 150 teenagers gave up another week of summer fun to make a difference.
Since then, Kingdom Builders has continued its annual trek to impact many communities.
The Rev. Mark Chaney, pastor of Howard's Creek Baptist Church in Boone, became affiliated with the ministry in 2001, when he first came to Boone to serve as youth minister at First Baptist of Boone.
Chaney and Scott Harrell, who served as youth minister at Boone First Baptist during the project's pilot year, became acquainted, and, today, the men serve together on the ministry's board of directors. Both ministers take active roles in the mission outreach.
Harrell was among the group of 75 teenagers and leaders who returned to Boone for their fifth trip this summer to help make home repairs, build handicap-accessible ramps and do whatever Chaney and his planning team had scheduled for them to do, based on needs known throughout Watauga County.
As several vans representing three Georgia churches rolled into the Boone area on Sunday evening, there was no question among the occupants regarding how they would spend their next few days.
Being a part of Kingdom Builders allows teens and adults to experience what hands-on mission work is about. It wasn't the first trip of its kind for most — and most likely, will not be the last.
They spend days at a time far from their comfort zones and work long hours, usually in sweltering heat in the middle of summer.
They didn't mind setting up camp at Green Valley Elementary School on Sunday evening, where Chaney and Harrell agreed that the principal and staff were a great help for providing accommodations. They didn't mind, either, taking showers in the mobile unit provided on-site by Samaritan's Purse and they enjoyed eating the home-cooked meals provided by local churches, including Meat Camp Baptist, Brushy Fork Baptist and Howard's Creek Baptist.
And it seemed no big deal after a long, hard day's work and dinner; they finally had a little free time to rest and enjoy recreation — before settling down in their bedrolls on the school floor and doing it all over again the next day.
It's not summer vacation as most prefer it, but, as Chaney pointed out, it gives participants an up-close look of being in the midst of need — and being able to do something about it.
And, at the same time, he said, they are paying their own way to come do the work and return, year after year, willing to do the same.
For Boone resident Lisa Foster, seeing a van full of people coming to help make repairs to her home was like seeing a band of angels arrive in her driveway.
“This means the world to me,” said the youthful grandmother who has multiple health problems and very limited resources.
“Things were just falling down around me before they came,” she said. “And, look here at all they've done — put me in new flooring and linoleum; they've painted and built me a ramp out there to help me get in and out of the house. There's no way I could pay to have all this done and no way I could ever thank them enough for what they've done.”
Kingdom Builders is a nonprofit group and functions only with participants paying their own way and through generosity of communities that want to provide free labor to their residents.
There is little, if any money, ever budgeted for materials or supplies, as every community the group enters comes up with the necessary materials needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.
Kingdom Builders seeks to provide for teenagers, college students, and adults an opportunity to show Christ's love through the act of service, a hands-on approach, which, Chaney and Harrell said, teaches personal commitment to Christ and missions.
In its relatively short span of existence, Kingdom Builders has seen more than 3,500 students repair more than 250 homes, churches, and schools in communities in the United States and the Bahamas.
Kingdom Builders originated under the direction of several ministers called to missions. It has been their goal to provide labor to communities where funds are available for materials, while at the same time, creating productive projects while keeping costs down to a minimum.
Chaney said the High Country community is always receptive to Kingdom Builders and the help the ministry offers.
“We have had a great response to our needs this year,” he said, “and have been able to complete a number of specific projects.”
He commended members of the Towel Ministry and its leader, Edie Tugman, from Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis, for funding materials for the ramp built at Foster's home.
“This is the second year that Edie and her group have provided materials and resources for our KB projects,” Chaney said. “It would've been very hard for us to have impacted as many lives as we have without their assistance.”