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Misson trip to New Richmond serves those in need

This crew of eight was one of many which fanned out around the greater New Richmond area last week as part of Faith Community Church's annual "Faith Works."

Jean Roach, 83, doesn't like to make quick decisions but when someone called her two weeks ago and asked her if she wanted a wheelchair ramp built, she had to think fast. The builders would come the following week, Roach said.

The offer, by a person that Roach doesn't know, got her thinking. After speaking with her at-home care assistants, and considering the fact that she has trouble getting up the stairs, Roach consented, and work began last week.

This building project, along with 102 others, was part of the third annual week-long local mission trip, "Faith Works," sponsored by Faith Community Church in New Richmond. The projects, which spanned from Roberts to Osceola, involved more than 350 parishioners, said Todd Hennlich, director of extension ministry.

Faith Community leads projects and outreach missions around the world, but we "don't want to forget about our friends and neighbors right in our backyard," he said. "I feel like God has put us in this town to serve through action and word."

One of the ways Faith Community is serving God through action is "Faith Works." The projects, which are submitted through a nomination process by the parishioners, vary in skill and intensity. The volunteers' labor is donated and the cost of materials is donated on a case-by-case basis.

Some projects cost very little in materials, such as the park clean-up project in Boardman. Callie's Park, established eight years ago but has since been overgrown, was the work site for eight missionaries who raked and weeded the gardens. Church members last visited the site in 2009, when a group of high school girls worked throughout a week to landscape Callie's Corner, an area dedicated to the memory of a young girl killed nearby more than a decade ago.

To spread God's word, at each project, there was a person designated to introduce Christ and the Gospel, said Mark Lambert, coordinator of the evangelical team.

As a way to create a mission trip experience, "Faith Works" missionaries were encouraged to camp out on the church grounds from June 26 to July 1, Hennlich said. Lambert and 25 other families camped out under the stars together.

Pam and Phillip Collova, some of the volunteers who built Roach's wheelchair ramp, didn't camp out but said they enjoyed their first experience with "Faith Works." Phillip, a business contractor, and his wife, have been members of Faith Community for 13 years and said helping people is what the Lord wants.

The ramp took three days to build and landscaping and concrete work were finished Friday. Roach hasn't been able to use the ramp yet because of her severe back pain but she said the volunteers did a beautiful job and she is thankful.

Participation in "Faith Works" is growing each year, Hennlich said, and the idea is spreading to other Faith Community churches in the area. Marty Best, a parishioner at the Hudson church, is coordinating a "Faith Works" mission in Hudson in August and has been in contact with mission coordinators in New Richmond.

On Monday, as Faith volunteers were giving out free bratwurst, hot dogs and cold water to passersby on the corner of South Knowles Avenue and West Fourth Street, Best stood by to "observe how things function and to learn the lessons from these folks."

A volunteer said about 750 sandwiches were given away during the three days that they were handed out. The group purchased the entire inventory of brats, hot dogs and buns from Family Fresh that day, a store employee said.

Recipients of the free lunch were given a flyer advertising a community event Wednesday evening hosted by the church. An estimated 850 people enjoyed complimentary pork sandwiches and music by the Fifty Fifty band.