By Kevin Kindelin

What do we do when someone comes to us in desperation with a crisis bigger than we think we can handle? I think as Christians, most of us would respond to a situation of need and do our best to help. It’s kind of a no-brainer. The label “Christian” would ring hollow if we didn’t. Christ calls us to do as He would do, to act in His stead. You know… WWJD? What would Jesus do? But what if it’s something really big, like the house of an elderly widow and lifelong Immanuel member literally falling apart? Do we step up and help out or do we politely decline citing time and expense? Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

In June, our member approached Deaconess Suzanne Fingerle very upset to have discovered her living room floor was sinking into her crawl space. Suzanne asked Immanuel member and volunteer, Don Hertel to go over and take a look. Don is known for his wood working ability and other handyman skills, but what he saw was beyond the scope of his expertise. He said not only was the floor sinking; there was also a lot work to be done just to make the house livable. Deaconess Suzanne then called another Immanuel member, John Siegmeier, who just so happens to be a contractor, and asked him to assess the situation. He reported back that there were major foundation issues that needed to be repaired. This was a job requiring the time, talents, and labor of volunteers. This was a job requiring the “hands and feet of Jesus.” Just about 20 members of Immanuel stepped up to form the Extreme Makeover Volunteer Team. (Okay, I just made up the name, but it fits and it sounds good.)

Volunteers Painting the Walls

This job needed to be done in stages. On the first day, the volunteer team emptied the house of years and years of stuff that had to be discarded, completely filling up a dumpster. They also moved furniture and other belongings to a safe storage pod. Then came the washing of all surfaces, scraping and patching of walls, removal of carpet nails, and preparation for painting and floor repairs. A screen door and bedroom door were replaced. A new front stoop was built. Some plumbing in the crawl space was replaced as well as the kitchen faucet. The interior was painted white giving it a fresh, clean, bright look.

The outside brick needed tuck pointing. The outside sewer drain was repaired. So was the chimney flue of a fireplace that had been dormant for 50 years. And of course, the floor was replaced. The underlying problem was a rotten joist, which too was replaced. The generosity of individuals, organizations, and a local retailer contributed to the success of this project. The Benevolent Group donated stove/oven and washer/dryer combos. Good Samaritan offered up kitchen cabinets, paint, and mattresses for the beds and, also covered several other expenses. Home depot kicked in a bathroom vanity and a toilet.

Repairs included building a new front stoop

“All of this resulting from the family simply wanting new carpeting and finding out that the living room floor was falling into the crawl space due to a rotten joist,” Suzanne marveled. “This is something new in the world of care ministry – the community pulled together to make this a safe, clean house with everything working. Most importantly, it was God leading the way to help someone in need.”

As Christians, we should enjoy helping and being good to others. Immanuel member and volunteer, Donna Watson shared her feelings about the project. “The Bible tells us to help the widows and the orphans. I love Immanuel because it’s family, and family takes care of family.” Our elderly widow and her family were taken care of by her Immanuel family and are now back in their home. We should know that our family also extends beyond the walls of Immanuel. It consists of all mankind, especially those with burdens to bear, and we should care for each other to the best of our abilities and extent of our resources. It’s a big job and it starts with volunteering. Step right up!