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Rockwell church holds Stay at Home Mission at Nazareth

ROCKWELL — This is the fourth year that 15-year-old Abigail Zunk has gotten her hands dirty on a missions project and left feeling better about it.

Zunk is one of more than 100 volunteers with Nazareth Community Church who worked this week at Nazareth Child & Family Connection during a Stay@Home Mission helping to beautify the campus.

About 70 adult church volunteers, 34 youths from the church and 29 residents from Nazareth did light construction projects, painted the cottages, and landscaped around building entrances.

“I love getting to build relationships with the kids (Nazareth residents and church youths). I’m able to grow closer just by working together,” Zunk said.

Zunk said it’s a blessing just to be a part of the missions project.

“It’s an awesome opportunity right here in our own community,” Zunk said.

Stay@Home Mission is designed so that church members and its youths have an opportunity to give back to their neighbors and show them the love of Christ.

Nazareth Community Church Pastor Mike Shoaf said the congregation believes in aid and volunteering with foreign missions, but it also believes there is work that can be done at home.

“It’s a unifying project. It shows them if we sacrifice the way the Lord sacrificed for us then your becomes tender,” Shoaf said.

The volunteers and Nazareth residents began their day at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast and devotions and worked until about 11:30 a.m. After lunch, they continued work, showered, and later in the day had worship and fellowship time.

Shoaf said it’s been like a camp in that the church volunteers also bunked on the campus for the past three and a half days. The work began Wednesday and will wrap up today.

The pastor estimates the volunteers worked about 900 man-hours a day, and the project averages about $60,000 worth of work, manpower and materials.

The materials are provided through contributions from people in the community and local businesses.

“The children’s home is such a great cause. They just need to be loved and know their value,” Shoaf said.

“These kids start feeling a part of something — it’s beautiful,” he said.

Shoaf prepares months ahead of time by visiting with the staff at Nazareth to see what their needs are and then gets to work creating lists of volunteers and what projects they will work on while there.

When asked how it all comes together, Shoaf said, “God makes it all work out.”

Summer Youth Pastor Ben Shoaf said the objective of the few days the volunteers have on campus is to build relationships.

“We do it because God loves us and we’re loving him right back,” Shoaf said.

Some of the youths who volunteered and live at Nazareth have said they had never built anything before and are now considering a career in construction or landscaping.

Shoaf said volunteering and working shows the youths how to work hard for something.

He said each year more and more people sign up to volunteer.

Church member Jeff Morris estimates he’s been volunteering for about five or six years. On Friday, he volunteered with his wife, April, and two of their four children — Jack, 8, and Easton, 6.

“It’s having the love of Christ with more than just words,” Morris said.

“God reached down to us, and we’ve got to reach down to others,” he said.

One of the residents at Nazareth said she’s participated for the past three years and said being able to beautify the campus alongside the volunteers means a lot to her.

“I love the relationships I’ve built,” she said.

The 14-year-old gave her life to Christ one year ago while volunteering and said she enjoys getting to learn more about God.

“I learned to build a relationship with God,” she said.

Another resident has been working alongside volunteers for three years and will soon be living on his own.

“It’s always been the greatest experience. So many connections are being made,” he said.

The 20-year-old said even after all the work is complete, the connections made with other youth and adult volunteers remain.

After the lunch session, a Nazareth resident left to be reunited with his family. Before he left, all the volunteers and youths said a word of prayer over him.

“We are amazed at the time, effort and hard work put in by all the volunteers from Nazareth Community Church the last few days,” said Vernon Walters, president and CEO of Nazareth Child & Family Connection. “It wasn’t just planting a few flowers and pulling some weeds. They worked hard. They landscaped. They built buildings. They painted. They put a new roof on.

I wouldn’t want to think it would have cost to have all that done. Thank you doesn’t do it justice,” Walters said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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