EDNA—Seventeen construction teams made up of 411 people working 13,776 man-hours completed 53 jobs in 10 days using 204 tubes of caulk and 201 gallons of paint.
“Number of lives changed? At least one—mine,” said Danny Reeves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Edna.
“It was the 10 most exciting days I’ve spent in ministry—the most exciting 10 days I’ve had as a pastor. Mission Jackson County is having a tremendous impact on me, our church and our community. I’m not going to use past tense, because it’s still living,” he said.
First Baptist has a history as a missions-minded church with both adult and youth teams working on projects not only around the country, but also around the world. Upon their return, there had been a growing sense by some participants that the church was “overstepping some local needs,” Reeves said. “They kept saying, ‘We could do the same things here.’”
A little over a year ago, a former member be-queathed a substantial sum to the church.
“As I pondered what we should do with those funds, I kept getting this sense: ‘Please don’t spend all of this on yourself,’” the pastor recalled.
About that time, he spoke with some friends at First Baptist Church in Big Lake, where he had served previously, and they talked about a concerted churchwide effort to help the hurting in the community. That became the genesis of Mission Jackson Country.
A lead team was formed last April to begin planning the event. Since the church has a history of ministering to all Jackson County and not just Edna, the county became the scope of the mission.
The lead team began speaking to other churches and civic organizations to gather nominations for homes that could be renovated. Almost 70 nominations were received, and of those, 42 were selected as projects for the week. Eleven more jobs later were added to bring the total to 53.
The more than 400 volunteers came from not only Edna, but also Ganado, Lolita, Morales, Carancahua Bay, Gonzales, Hallettsville, Port Lavaca, Belton, Kingsville, Crosby, Waco and even as far away as West Virginia.
The teams put new roofs on homes, leveled homes, repaired plumbing, painted and made carpentry repairs.
Volunteers were needed for far more than construction, however. At the kickoff pep rally, 439 servings of nachos, 387 Frito pies and 473 hot dogs were served. During the 10 days of Mission Jackson County, 3,423 meals were served to workers.
There also was a childcare team that rocked 51 babies to sleep, changed 141 diapers and served up five pounds of animal crackers.
The only negative statistic of the week: One person bitten by a copperhead.
Reeves led a team that worked on repainting the exterior of a large two-story house.
While Reeves is certain of the changes in his own heart, he also is certain others experienced similar transformations.
“I sat in the home of one of homeowners we were able to help, and we just talked about who Jesus Christ is,” the pastor recalled. “He wanted to know what it was that motivated all these people who had helped him.
“Certainly the project was not the home, but the person. And the project was not just the person living in the home, but also those who volunteered and showed the love and caring of Christ. We can talk about many lives that were changed, and each of us can testify that we were one of those.”
The 10 days of Mission Jackson County included two Sundays—neither of which included Sunday morning services.
“The last two Sundays, we’ve had a theme: ‘Don’t go to church; be the church,’” Reeves said. “In the evenings, we gathered for a powerful time of testimony of how God was working.
“This Sunday when we come back to church, we’re going to add a word to that theme: ‘Don’t just go to church; be the church.’”
As the volunteers worked throughout the week, they wore bright yellow T-shirts with the words “The church has left the building” printed on them.
The day after Mission Jackson County’s 10-days of labor was completed, a man from the community came to see Reeves. “‘Are you the church of the yellow shirts?’ he asked me,” Reeves said. “And I said, ‘Yes we are.’ He connected that yellow shirt with people who care.”
While the 10 days were a lot of work, it was worth the investment, he said.
“When we’re in the midst of serving others, it’s always a blessing.”
George Henson is the staff writer for the Texas Baptist Standard.