Church volunteers help Macon homeowners as display of faith

Like the river runs in the book of Revelation, more than 200 young people are serving 27 Macon homeowners from Thursday to Sunday in a mission called the River of Life.

“We are taking His love out into the community,” said Claire Cox. She is a churchgoer at Forest Hills United Methodist Church, which sponsors the effort and hosts all the volunteers. Cox also helps coordinate the project with six participating churches from Florida and Georgia.

River of Life has been a fixture in Macon for 13 summers.

From Bloomfield to east Macon to Tindall Heights, River of Life volunteers will be painting, repairing homes as well as installing one wheelchair ramp and one roof.

The new roof will go to Macon residents Willie and Lena Smith, who have lived in the same home on Nisbet Drive for 32 years.

The roof leaks and has for a long time, Willie said.

He said constant exposure to the sun and other weather elements caused the roof to deteriorate. During the 2008 Mother’s Day tornadoes, he said that three trees twisted around each other and fell on the roof without breaking it. “It sounded like someone was whipping the house with switches.”

Lena said she began searching for companies to repair the roof last June. They consulted two companies, and the average cost was about $14,000, she said.

“Everyone charges an arm and a leg” for a new roof, Willie said.

Lena called Elder Care, an organization that caters to the elderly on fixed incomes. That’s when she stumbled on Rebuilding Macon Inc., an ongoing partner of River of Life that selects homes in need of repair.

And she thanks God that people are giving her and her husband a roof for free.

“This is really a blessing,” Lena said.

Sixteen volunteers ages 16 to 23 are acting as carpenters for the weekend and building the couple a new roof.

The crew leader Daniel Peavy said it needed to be replaced.

“It’s what you call friable,” which means the roof is brittle and crumbles when touched, he said.

Peavy, 30, lives near Savannah and has served every summer with River of Life since he was in seventh grade.

He said he thinks painting homes and repairing rotten siding or roofs is a testament to loving your neighbor.

“Well, for me personally, I want to live out my faith ... and share the Gospel,” he said.

Cox said that she hopes the young volunteers realize that “as they go through life, service to God is not a heavy burden.”

Willie and Lena both expressed how much they appreciated the help.

“I couldn’t ask for (anything) better,” Willie said.

To contact writer Conner Wood, call 744-4489.