How much do you do for your church? Probably more than you'd do for someone else's. But hundreds of volunteers from South Carolina are battling the heat in Long County, Georgia, as they help rebuild the First Baptist Church of Ludowici. They have plenty of experience as they've done this all around the Southeast, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more grateful congregation than Ludowici.
Deacon Tommy Wingate says a cup of cold water is the least he can do for the 300 volunteers sweating in the summer heat to rebuild his church, which burned to the ground almost three years ago. "It's overwhelming and hard to believe this many people show the love of God this way," he said.
Church members from Barnwell, South Carolina, pick a project each year and bring laborers, trained and untrained, to lift, saw and nail walls into place. "We've got some who actually take this as their vacation because they have so much fun," said construction leader Coley Creech. "They'd rather do this than lay on a beach and get sunburned somewhere."
"I've having so much fun, like crazy fun," said volunteer Rebecca Boyelston.
Not only do these volunteers not get paid, they actually chipped in $100 each to cover part of their meals and insurance. Other churches in the community have furnished lunch each day.
Grateful members have kept volunteers in ice cold ammonia towels. "This is nothing," said church member Gaynell Garrison. "We can't begin to compensate them for what they're doing for us. It's just unbelievable."
As the team picks next summer's project in a few weeks, some from Ludowici may join them to pass along the help they've experienced this week.
Some of the volunteers are working away from the construction, helping with bible school at the old church site. In addition, the teenagers lead a youth rally every night.
When they leave, other groups are waiting to bring their talents to help finish the church.