Photo: Some of the 17-member group from Pennsylvania’s Bunkertown Brethren Church take shelter from the rain with homeowner partner Rita Rowland
Putting faith into action a passion for these Pennsylvania volunteers and their church
WEST POINT, Georgia — When you think of which state might have the most volunteers at the 2021 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in this community on the Georgia-Alabama border, Pennsylvania might not be the first one that comes to mind.
But a 17-member contingent led by long-time Fuller Center volunteers and house leaders Barry and Amy Stuck is in West Point this week, practicing what their church, Bunkertown Brethren Church, loves to preach — putting faith into action. In fact, an even larger contingent of about 40 Bunkertown Brethren members assembled the walls for this house during a daylong wall build in late August.
“When (Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project Executive Director Kim Roberts) contacted us about coming down, I told her I wanted to bring a group from the church but also wanted to build the walls up home and we’d ship them down,” Barry Stuck said. “I didn’t know all the details — I figured God would take care of all that, and He did. It just brought people together, and people back home are excited about what’s taking place here, too. So, they’re are part of it also. They’re praying for us. Some people couldn’t make the trip, but when you do something like that back home, they can be a part of that.”
While they have friends and family back home praying for them, there’s nothing quite like being on site when those walls are shaped into a new home — especially when you are getting your hands dirty and your feet muddy as Monday’s first day of the build got off to a rainy start. Fuller Center build weeks are often bonding experiences for groups like this one.
“This is the first time other than building walls that we’ve worked together, but we go to church together,” Stuck said. “We all know each other, but this is kind of unique because we get to work together and find out who we really are.”
Lisa Ritzman said that kind of bonding is a huge part of what she loves about these mission trips.
“The bonding has just been wonderful, and meeting Rita (Rowland, the homeowner) has been a real blessing,” Ritzman said. “I think just helping others was the big draw. We had talked prior about wanting to do some kind of mission trip. Our church is very active in trips going to Haiti, and that’s not happening now. So, we were very excited to be able to come down here and be part of the house build.”
Pam Master also is a veteran of builds in Haiti. West Point may be a very different location, but the basics of mission work remain the same.
“Obviously, the tools and the resources are different, but a lot is the same with everybody chipping in wherever needed,” Master said. “If someone needs some help with something, somebody just hops right in and joins in and helps.”
Kimi Fitzwater, meanwhile, came at this mission trip in a slightly more roundabout way.
“Actually, I signed my husband up, and he was like, ‘Well, why aren’t you going?,'” she said. “So, I got someone to watch our boys (ages 8 and 5) and just jumped on the bandwagon. He loves serving, and this lined up perfectly with his work schedule.”
Each of the Pennsylvania volunteers takes putting faith into action seriously and echo the late Millard Fuller’s admonition to everyone that, “Faith without works is as dead as a door nail!” That kind of active spirit flows through Bunkertown Brethren, they say.
“In the Bible, it says to love one another,” Fitzwater said. “If you’re not out there helping people, serving and being God’s hands and feet, what’s the point of your relationship with God? He’s not here, you are. That’s why He put us on Earth — to be His witnesses.”
This is the Stucks’ ninth trip to the Chattahoochee Valley, but they just learned that building Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project house No. 65 for Army veteran Rita Rowland has brought their service experiences in the Valley full circle.
“The very first house that we helped with — Terrence Lovelace’s house — was house No. 4,” Stuck noted. “Our homeowner is actually staying there right now temporarily while we’re building her house. It’s really neat how that came around.”