BASTROP—Texas Baptist Men volunteers working in Bastrop saw two central tenets of the Christian faith—rebirth and restoration—play out before their eyes.
Working in partnership with Timberline Fellowship near Bastrop, TBM birthed a new ministry last fall when it borrowed a portable sawmill from East Texas Baptist Encampment. Instantly, the same trees that were burned by wildfires were seen as fuel to help people begin their recovery as usable portions of charred timber became lumber for rebuilding.
Jim Long from Snow Hill Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant helped put the ministry together. "It broke our hearts to see all the timber lost in disaster. I am glad we have found a way to capture some of it for kingdom use," he said.
Using the sawmill, TBM volunteers turned charred trees into usable lumber for the recovery process in Bastrop. Volunteers cut and sorted the lumber into "packages" to be used to build specific-sized storage buildings. Plans were produced by a draftsman and given to homeowners to use to assemble the building they selected.
Other homeowners who needed a porch, steps or ramp brought their list of special needs for the ministry to fill. Timberline Fellowship received the requests for the lumber and then prioritized the list with the most urgent need at the top of the list.
The ministry worked so well, Timberline Fellowship in Paige bought its own portable sawmill to continue the ministry past January.
"Our folks need temporary structures as they rebuild their lives," said Timberline Fellowship Pastor Gordon Friday. "This raw lumber affords them a fast remedy for porches, ramps and storage buildings that they need."
Ernie Rice, the TBM volunteer from First Baptist Church in Stockdale who led the sawmill effort, said he is pleased God used TBM volunteers to meet the needs of people in Bastrop creatively, giving volunteers and Timberline Fellowship the opportunity to share evidence of God's love.
One couple who lived in the area brought a tree to the TBM volunteers to mill. It had been planted 47 years earlier by the woman's grandfather on the day of her birth. As a result of the fires, the husband and wife had to cut it down. They wanted to use some of the lumber from it in their reconstruction. Most of it went to help others in the community. TBM volunteers visited with the couple about 90 minutes and invited them to visit Timberline Fellowship.
"We are just trying to be obedient to God's call," Rice said.
—Compiled from TBM reports.