FRANKTON, Ind. —
Intent on helping the less fortunate within the United States, members of the First United Methodist Church in Frankton — along with members of sister congregations — travel to Beverly, Ky., once or twice a year. Red Bird Mission and Clinic is an organization that has aided people in the Appalachian Mountains since 1921 and is ready and waiting to plug residents of Madison County into fruitful work.
“The area is underfinanced and there are not a lot of jobs,” said Gary Elsten, pastor. “The people in Appalachia are in a lower socio-economic group. But people are the same everywhere. They are part of us and part of God’s Kingdom.”
Before the team arrives, others from Red Bird Missions have met with locals, appraised needed home improvement work and determined a plan of attack. Mission teams that travel from all over the United States complete the projects. The center is able to house 150 workers per week and operates 35 weeks per year.
“There is a lot of poverty and isolation — some job sites should only be 15 minutes away but it takes us an hour to get there because of the terrain,” said Janine Compton, who has been on seven trips. “But the people have hope and are down to earth. They can’t give anything in return and are so appreciative of what we do. One woman who was almost 80 had never had hot water in her kitchen before. She was so excited that you would have thought she won a million dollars.”
Compton has added rooms to trailers (most people live in trailers), installed shingles on roofs, dug post holes to mount a deck onto mobile homes, painted, torn down old walls, installed new drywall, and mudded seams.
“I have found that I can do just about anything in small construction — if someone shows me how,” she said. “I have skills I didn’t know I had. It’s hard and hot and dirty — and a lot of times there is no bathroom — so it’s outside of my comfort zone.”
“Doing this is a fulfillment of the command to love our neighbor, but the relationship building is a big benefit to us,” Elsten said. “I’m surprised of how we often think of poor people who don’t live in the U.S. but we have very poor people not that far from Madison County.”
From Here to There: A Series about Madison County residents who travel to help their fellowman. If you know of an individual or civic, school or church group that has embarked on a mission trip in the last year, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.