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Out of the ashes

January 30th, 2012 at 9:25 am

BASTROP – Rebirth and restoration are central tenants to the Christian faith. In Bastrop, Texas Baptist Men volunteers saw those principles play out before their very eyes.

Working in partnership with Timberline Fellowship near Bastrop, the men’s ministry organization birthed a new ministry last fall when it borrowed a portable sawmill from East Texas Baptist Encampment. Instantly, the very trees that were burned by the wildfires were seen as fuel to help people begin their recovery.

Jim Long, a TBM volunteer and veteran sawyer, helped to put the ministry together. “It broke our hearts to see all the timber lost in disaster. I am glad we have found a way to capture some of it for kingdom use.”

Using the sawmill, TBM volunteers turned charred trees into usable lumber for the recovery process in Bastrop. Volunteers cut and sort the lumber into “packages” to be used to build specific sized storage buildings. Plans were produced by a draftsman and are given to homeowners to use to assemble the building they have chosen. Other homeowners that need a porch or steps or a ramp brought their needs list to be filled by the ministry. The church receives the requests for the lumber then prioritizes the list with the most urgent need at the top of the list.

The ministry worked so well, Timberline Fellowship bought its own portable sawmill to continue the ministry past January.

“Our folks need temporary structures as they rebuild their lives,” said Timberline Fellowship Pastor Gordon Friday. “This raw lumber affords them a fast remedy for porches, ramps and storage buildings that they need.”

Ernie Rice, the TBM volunteer who led the sawmill effort, said he is pleased God creatively used TBM volunteers to meet the needs of people in Bastrop, giving volunteers and Timberline Fellowship the opportunity to share about God’s love. Rice looks forward to seeing how God uses the sawmill and TBM in days ahead.

One couple who lived in the area brought a tree to the TBM volunteers to mill. The tree had been planted 47 years earlier by the woman’s grandfather on the day of her birth. As a result of the fires, the husband and wife had to cut it down. They wanted to use some of the lumber from it in their reconstruction. Most of it went to help others in the community. TBM volunteers visited with the couple for about 90 minutes and invited them to visit Timberline Fellowship.

“We are just trying to be obedient to God’s call.” said Ernie Rice, team leader of this happy band of sawdust makers.

Compiled from TBM reports.

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