Illinois church group helping build log cabin

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Church volunteers from central Illinois are spending the week doing ministry work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Crosswinds Church of Bloomington, Illinois has teamed-up with Gulfhaven Mennonite Church in Gulfport.

The ministry team from Illinois is helping build a log cabin for a man named Billy Melton. He's a local shrimper who's fallen on difficult times. After losing his home to Katrina, fire destroyed his trailer.

Crosswinds Church of Bloomington, Illinois made the construction project a family retreat.

"It's great," said Crosswinds Pastor Shelley Bauer. "We've had two awesome days of sunshine. We're okay with a little bit of rain. We heard at home that there's seven inches of snow and it was 19 degrees today, so we're good. We're happy."

"From Katrina, we're finding there's still displaced people," said Nelson Roth, the pastor of Gulfhaven Mennonite Church and founder of Relevant Ministry. "Six months ago, we came across this fella who was living pretty much in a condemned trailer. He had this log cabin sitting out, had the wherewithal to get the materials for the log cabin."

Volunteers carefully maneuvered roof trusses into place.

Steven Gillespie is among the young workers from Illinois. He was looking for some way to stay busy over Christmas break.

"All I had was two weeks of vacation from school and I didn't have anything to do. And I wasn't going to sit around the house," Gillespie said.

The increasing rain didn't seem to dampen the spirit of the volunteers or slow down the progress. No one is happier with the project than the man who will call the log cabin home.

It means so much to Billy Melton.

"Oh man, the world," he said, smiling. "It's the best thing that ever happened. It's great. Best group of people I've ever been around. A wonderful family, doing a great job."

"Here we see the hands and feet of Jesus in action. Just serving and blessing folks here in Mississippi. And what a great thing it is to see, how the Lord keeps working and blessing and doing good things here after such a horrible storm," Pastor Roth said.

Crosswinds Community Church of Bloomington, Illinois has made three mission trips to the gulf coast since the hurricane. The church brought some 40 volunteers for this project.

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