A Brush With Kindness team ‘serves Jesus while serving others’

October 17, 2013

Church: First UMC - Lindstrom

Submitted by: Rev. Dan Doughty

A little over two years ago, a group of twenty-three parishioners from Lindstrom United Methodist Church and Main Street United Methodist Church (North Branch) went on a mission trip to Red Bird Missionary Conference in Kentucky. The group of volunteers spent the week fixing dilapidated homes in need of repair—and on their way back to Minnesota, conversation was flowing about launching a “fixer-upper” ministry in their own community.

Upon returning home, Rev. Dan Doughty, who serves Lindstrom UMC, and Alan Rasmussen, of Main Street UMC, formed a committee to look into what it would take to serve the community by fixing up homes. They ran into many obstacles with city and county permits and insurance—but during these conversations, they ran across the East-Central Minnesota chapter of Habitat for Humanity. That organization told them that the group from Lindstrom and North Branch could become a chapter of “A Brush With Kindness,” a program under the Habitat umbrella that seeks to assist people whose homes need work but whose occupants are not financially or physically able to make repairs themselves.

“East Central Habitat took us under their wing,” Doughty said. “We found out we’d be covered in their insurance, and that allowed us to get started.”

Doughty, Rasmussen, and the group wanted to begin right away, but were advised to start slowly—so they undertook two projects during the summer of 2012 just to get their feet wet.

Then, last month, they hosted a mission week, with more than 50 volunteers from the two churches and other area churches. An additional fifteen volunteers prepared and delivered lunch to the work sites.

In all, volunteers repaired seven homes during mission week. Projects ran the gamut from a simple paint job to completely new siding and re-roofing. All of the projects were completed during the course of the week, except one siding job that took a little longer. Because the group started promotions early in the year, they were able to secure donations of painting supplies and roofing materials from outside groups, and they received local press, which prompted some community members to sign up to volunteer.

“Our motto is to ‘serve Jesus while serving others,’” Doughty said. “And after this mission week, our volunteer base continues to grow.”

One of the projects that the volunteers worked on was fixing a woman’s trailer. “The condition of the trailer was fine,” Doughty said. “But by painting it blue, instead of the current brown, we had an opportunity to brighten up her life—in more ways than one.”

Not only were the lives of the project beneficiaries impacted, but the volunteers were also transformed by serving others.

“People who were otherwise quiet have stood up and shared stories about what the week did for them in terms of their relationship with Christ,” Doughty said. “Volunteers, as well as our partner families, were moved.”

Learn more about the East Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity’s “A Brush With Kindness.”

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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