A partnership has been inked between Louisiana Baptist Mission Builders and the Canadian Baptist Mission Builders.
ALEXANDRIA – A partnership has been inked between Louisiana Baptist Mission Builders and the Canadian Baptist Mission Builders.
It’s an Acts 1:8 “You will be my witnesses” endeavor for both groups of volunteer construction missionaries, said Jeff Woodrich, director of the Louisiana Baptist Mission Builders. His Canadian counterpart is Ken Ponath.
“I am going to be sending volunteers up there and Ken has the same vision,” Woodrich said. “It’s not about us; it’s what we’re going to do to fulfill with Christ what God has called us to do.”
Jeff and Erin Woodrich met Ken and Darla Ponath three years ago at a construction missions roundtable event, Woodrich said.
“God bonded us together,” Woodrich said. “The two of us teach each other; we share tips that we’ve learned.”
They also share needs. Canadian volunteer construction missionaries worked recently on the Cameron Baptist Church project, a major renovation necessary because of Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Louisiana teams are invited to Kamloops, British Columbia, in May, and to Calgary, Alberta, between June and September.
Sometimes the needs are more personal. The Ponaths, Mission Service Corps volunteer missionaries since they started Canadian Baptist Mission Builders six years ago, and Canadian Disaster Relief a year after that, became salaried employees of the Canadian National Baptist Convention in January, 2009. But because of the rapid downward slide in the international economy, their salary is being eliminated.
Mission Service Corps volunteer missionaries are called by God, commissioned by their local church and endorsed by the North American Mission Board as self-funded workers.
“Ken and Darla have lost their support as of April,” Woodrich said. “We need people praying about God supplying their needs.”
Woodrich said he also wanted people at all levels of skill – from zilch to master – praying about participating in the Kamloops project in May: a major renovation of a recently-purchased building by a missions-minded church, and the Calgary project from June to September: Cambrian Heights, which has started at least six other churches, is renovating and enlarging its existing facilities.
“This partnership I think would benefit both of us,” Ponath said, referring to the two construction missions organizations. “People always like to go someplace else to help.
“We don’t have destruction like this in Canada,” Ponath said at Cameron Baptist Church with a sweep of his hand as he gestured toward a 6-foot-high pile of hurricane debris. “We also don’t have the Gulf of Mexico, but Louisiana doesn’t have the Canadian Rockies.
“We were looking for a place we could help after a disaster,” Ponath continued. His wife Darla is Disaster Relief coordinator for the Canadian National Baptist Convention. “God put that on our heart, so when Jeff [Woodrich] called us we were ready. … This is our Samaria,” he added, referring to the Acts 1:8 scripture that is foundational to both Louisiana and Canadian Baptist Mission Builders.
“We don’t have a lot of experience, but we’re willing,” said Ponath, who was a farmer and rancher, and owned a trucking company in northern Alberta before God called him into full-time ministry. “We hope to develop a team of experienced tradesmen we can count on, but that will take time.”
In the meantime, Canada is a huge nation, 4,800 miles wide, and across that expanse are about 250 churches affiliated with the Canadian National Baptist Convention. Only about one-third of the churches meet in their own building, and money is tight. Volunteer construction missionaries are needed.
Call Woodrich at 225.975.0848, Ponath at 403.932.5688, or see www.lbc.org and www.cnbc.ca for more on Louisiana and Canadian Baptist Builders; the LBC website has a video clip of Ponath at Cameron. In addition, www.youtube.com — search for Ken Ponath – has video clips of the Cornerstone Kamloops and Cambrian Heights Calgary pastors explaining their need and ministry vision.