Building the kingdom, constructing a home

PEÑITAS, Texas – Sitting on tar paper with a stapler in her hand, Sandra Wisdom-Martin takes a deep breath and sweat runs down her temple. She tacks the material in place, completing another row on a roof that will be finished by the end of the day.

The executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas beams as members of the group’s mission team whirl around the construction site painting, hammering and wiring. In a couple weeks, the women will have built a home through Buckner missions for a family in need.

But when the team has finished, Wisdom-Martin doesn’t look at the home when she considers what the group accomplished.

“I always tell the women, ‘If all we do is build a house this week, I will be very disappointed. We are here to be salt and light. How we treat each other matters. And how we show Christ's love in this community matters,’” she said. “First-time participants think we go to build a house. Building a house is only a byproduct of what we do. We are there to build relationships. This is why I like going back to the same community year after year. It's not a one or two week project for us. We are building lifelong relationships.”

The team worked alongside Martin Martinez and Valerie Marquez, who have been working through the Buckner Family Hope Center to strengthen their family. Through taking classes and achieving goals, families earn points at the Family Hope Center. When families earn enough points as they work toward self-sufficiency, Buckner partners with mission teams to build them new houses.

Those houses replace dilapidated and makeshift homes that often create health hazards for parents and children. Without assistance through the Family Hope Center, families typically would not have safe housing.

“It was our honor and privilege to partner with an incredible family,” Wisdom-Martin said. “Martin and Valerie are hard-working, kind and compassionate people. They not only care for their own child, but they care for extended family members as well.”

Helping a family is a natural outgrowth of faith, team member Lanelle Amann said.

“Because Christ first loved us, we now have the blessing of physically showing his love through the Women's Build,” she said.

The team was joined by the couple’s neighbors, creating an opportunity to foster friendships.

During lunch, a team member shared the gospel with one of the Peñitas couples. The husband and wife embraced a relationship with Christ.

“This is why we do what we do,” Wisdom-Martin said. “We want every believer to see themselves as a missionary. And we don't want it to end when they go home. We want it to be a lifestyle.”

Samuel Hutchinson, Buckner construction and aid coordinator, feels blessed to work with WMU of Texas. Team members repeatedly put others in front of themselves and meet needs they discover.

“It’s very rewarding to work with WMU of Texas,” he said. “They come here with a clear plan of attack and excellent leadership. They work all day and into the night, then they wake up the next day and do it all over again. They are about building God’s kingdom while building a house.”

John Hall is the associate director of public relations for Buckner International. Contact him at jhall[at]buckner[dot]org.

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