HAMLER — A special worship service, featuring Pastor Keith Hunsinger of Hope Lutheran Church in rural Hamler, will be held June 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the Hamler Summerfest grounds to raise money for Jesus Builds, an initiative in its fifth year that helps area people with building projects at their homes.
The initiative is led by several Lutheran churches, including: Christ Lutheran, Continental; St. Peter’s Lutheran, Holgate; Hope Lutheran and St. Stephen’s Lutheran, Hamler; Trinity Lutheran, Malinta; and St. John Lutheran and Immanuel Lutheran, Deshler. In addition, St. John United Church of Christ of Holgate is interested in helping with Jesus Builds projects.
Music will be provided by keyboardist Jim Murcko of Hope Lutheran Church, assisted by Ashley Klein. In addition, a junior choir comprised of youth from the several churches will perform during the service. A barbecue chicken dinner will follow worship, which will be available for a freewill donation. All proceeds from the event will be used toward several future building projects.
“The first year, we weren’t sure it was even going to happen, but we trusted that it would,” said Hunsinger. “Nobody around here had ever gotten this many congregations together to do a worship service and/or a project. Now, it has become something that belongs to all of us. Jesus Builds is really two things, it is a cooperative mission festival/worship service, and it’s a cooperative ministry to help build, modify and restore housing for people in need.
“One of the projects we’ve done was help a couple that adopted a child who is wheelchair bound,” continued Hunsinger. “Suddenly they needed ramps and a bathroom modification. We’ve also helped a couple where the husband suffered a stroke and needed assistance at their home. The biggest single thing we do is ramps. We don’t do full-blown renovations, we’re really just in the home modification business.”
In its first year in 2015, Jesus Builds raised $10,000. That money was used to drill a new well for a woman whose well had run dry, as well as put a new roof and siding on her house. Currently three or four projects are in the works for 2019, at an estimated cost of $5,000-$8,000.
“Right now, we have projects to be done in Napoleon, Deshler and Continental,” said Hunsinger. “We also have an important piece of news to share, Thrivent Financial for Christians has stepped up as a sponsor of the event, and they’ve awarded us up to $3,500 to pay for the mission festival on June 23. That money will go a long way in helping us raise funds that day to be used toward the projects we have planned.”
Jesus Builds is comprised of a small group of volunteers, led by project manager Robert Schwiebert of Hamler, who is a semi-retired builder.
“Like I said, we mostly build ramps and modify bathrooms, but we do have projects where Robert’s skills are exactly what we need,” Hunsinger said. “He knows so many people in the supply part of the building business, that he really helps us stretch our dollars.”
Hunsinger shared how he enjoys the communities coming together to worship, and to share a meal together.
“The leaders of the service come from each congregation, and they are present in a very visible way, because this is truly a cooperative effort,” said Hunsinger. “In the past, I wasn’t a big proponent of church fundraisers that use meals, but I’ve come to realize that the fellowship at an event like this is so much bigger, and more important than I realized.
“Seeing the people come together to worship, and then share in that fellowship afterward is a joy to watch,” added Hunsinger.
For more information about Jesus Builds, contact any of the churches involved in the cooperative effort.