VESSEL staff desires to be the head, heart, and hands of Christ. If we aren't serving the less fortunate or even our sisters and brothers next door, then how much are we really growing in the head and heart areas of our Christian walks? VESSEL seeks to take on a handful of community projects every year in Blue Ridge, GA and the surrounding areas.
2020 project list
It is both exciting and heart wrenching to talk about our first batch of service projects in the year 2021. The Lord did work through each project, and while some were entirely positive and feel-good in nature, there was one that is tough to sit on, though we trust God in what was accomplished and what we aim to accomplish in the future.
The first of three was our biggest project. We sent a large group out to Mountain Fellowship Camp in Suches, GA. They serve quite a few people over the year and are always in need of support. We were able to clean up their obstacle course, clean out their schoolhouse, and prepare their two dozen cabins. Lisa and Tim, the camp directors, were incredibly grateful and surprised by all we were able to complete. We plan to go back in May to continue what we really have just started in our new relationship with this camp!
Our second project was out in Blue Ridge. An older lady named Betty lives in a small, disheveled home in isolation. It took a couple individuals to talk to her before she would allow us to serve her, and thankfully we were able to send a few guys out there to rebuild her steps to her front porch. She didn't interact much, but we pray this act of service will in some way stir her heart and open her up to people and God.
Finally, there was our third project that we ask for the most prayer on... Steve lives in Blairsville and is wrought with cancer. He is only 50, and he has multiple tumors throughout his brain and a large mass in his chest. His family has mostly abandoned him, save his ex-wife, Carrie, who lovingly has been tending to him the best she can. She works two full time jobs and has two kids to take care of while trying to look out for Steve, who can't do much for himself anymore. He has a hard time speaking, and when he did talk, he spent the first half of our time there saying, "I'm sorry." It was heartbreaking. We spent time talking with him as we prepped his floors for vinyl and cleaned up his little trailer. We got to connect with Carrie and her kids as well as donate some money to them for continued efforts on Steve's place. The fear for them all is that one of Steve's seizures will eventually kill him. And so I ask we all pray vigorously for them! As my heart is burdened for them, I think of Psalm 130: 2, "O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!" We plan to go back very soon to help in as many ways as we can.
I'm so thankful for these members of Vessel who are honestly some of the most incredible volunteers I've ever worked beside. They work and love hard that encourages me greatly! We thank God for this community among Vessel and the local body of churches that have stepped alongside our efforts and we look forward to sharing more with you all in the weeks and months to come.
Two of our three projects consisted of return trips to projects from back in March. We visited Mountain Fellowship Camp again to clean up debris from a couple of big spring storms. With the camp being so large, we sent around 12 volunteers to gather, cut, and remove branches, logs, leaves, and sticks. This camp in Suches is one of the few influential Christian establishments in the area and is a privilege for us to serve in! If you have a group of youth that you would like to take on a summer trip this year, consider Mountain Fellowship Camp in Suches Georgia.
There is a wide array of awesome activities available to our youth. Our other return trip was back to Steve Pye's trailer out in Blairsville, GA. Unfortunately, Steve passed away after we served in March of this year to an aneurysm, leaving his property to his mother. We did trash removal, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done over there. Please be praying for Steve's surrounding family as they cope with the loss. Pray especially for his ex wife, Carrie, who took care of him up until his passing.
Lastly, we served a wonderful lady named Barbara who lives in Blairsville. We tended to her property by laying mulch, pulling weeds, and landscaping. We were touched by her kindness and lifelong dedication to serving those in need. At 81 she is ready to get back into the full swing of mentorship and service in our community. May we see ourselves as such servants both now and if the Lord blesses us to live to such a rich age. I think of Paul who desired among all things to finish the race well! It's inspiring to see such humility both over 2,000 years ago and now in the 21st century. God is an enduring Father. Let us honor that timeless love by never tiring to do good and holding fast to it.
We hit a milestone July 10th... Vessel completed 5 service projects in one day! The Lord moved in a special way, allowing us to accomplish so much in our service and ministering. The humidity and heat were challenging, but by grace and sweat, at least 5 peoples lives were touched.
Our first project was for First Fruits, a ministry under The Ridge Community Church. This wonderful group of people, led by Gina Huff, goes around the community, offering hot meals and the gospel to needy people throughout Fannin County, GA. Three of our students served by doing a deep clean of their main van and truck. First Fruits thanked us not only verbally, but also by providing lunch for all of our volunteers at all 5 sites. It was a huge blessing!
Our second project was one for Betty out of McCaysville, GA. She lives in a small apartment and is of poor health. She is moving back home up north and desperately needed help packing up her stuff and getting it ready for pickup at the end of the month. We were blessed to pray over her before we left, to which her gratefulness was deeply felt.
The third project of the bunch was for Kelly and Louise out of Young Harris, GA. These two widows needed quite a bit of work done on their house. Flooring was removed, drywall was hung, and framing was put in. It was great to hear the testimonies of our crew while working alongside some new faces in that serving team!
Fourthly, a crew was sent out to Ruth, who lives in McCaysville, GA. She has had a lot of medical complications and can no longer take care of her property like she used to. There was weed eating that needed to be done and some rails that needed to be replaced that had rotted away. This project isn't yet complete, as there was concrete involved that needed to set. We plan to go back and finish this in the coming weeks. Regardless of completion status, Ruth was just thankful to have us there to do anything to begin with. She was very interested in what our ministry does, and so we were able to encourage her in our time there.
Finally we have Maine' out of Farner, TN. Maine' has lived in her disheveled home her entire life. She is alone these days and unable to tend to her house that is falling apart, little-by-little. Though there are many other projects there we hope to tackle in the coming months, we were able to work on a ramp that goes out her back door to her garden. The stairs she had before were too steep, and she would fall down them. With a ramp almost ready to go, she can more easily access her garden.
To be able to show people in these communities the love of Christ through service is a special endeavor. Yes, it is a command, but it is one sewn into us by the Holy Spirit. We do it because our desires have changed as new creations in Christ. What seems confusing to people who don't often receive help, let alone for free, for us is a joy and encouragement to embark on. Sometimes it's the help itself that affects someone's heart... sometimes it's praying over them... and sometimes it's that one smile that makes all the difference. Christ shows up in so many ways when his people are willing to submit. Thank you God for so many helping hands! Pray for us as we continue to go out into our communities.
I happened to be reading in Acts just a couple days before our service projects, and verses 18-35 really stuck out to me. Paul gives this beautiful, heartfelt speech that covers what the Apostle accomplished in Christ in Asia. He looks to the near future, where he sees tribulation and affliction coming. Lovingly, he shares the truth of Christ, his boldness among them, and warns them of the challenges to come. It is a wonderful passage worth reflection. Verse 35 is what sticks out to me with what we did November 13th in the community. "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” After all the truth and deed Paul claims to his fellow believers, he closes the speech with this. If we see the Gospel, boldness in the Spirit, and morality as important, let us not forget that Paul chose to end a speech on such things with helping the weak and destitute, the downtrodden and the lowly, the hurting and the suffering. What a blessing it is to serve. We have experienced the gift of giving. Let us not forget its precious impact on everyone involved.
There were 4 opportunities to share in this gift of service Saturday: One group split logs in Suches GA for needy families trying to prepare for winter.
For another project, we sent a group to help Brenda in Blue Ridge, GA. She has many projects for her home trailer that need to be done, and this time, we worked on remodeling her bathroom. Our guys got to pray with her through tears. Let the Lord minister to this woman. Amen!
For the third project, I personally went to Blairsville to help a lovely woman named Mattie, who lost her husband and is going blind in one eye. She isn't able to do much physically, but what a blessing she is spiritually. She is so strong in the Lord, so heartfelt, and so wise. Landscaping helped to make her place look much better.
Charlotte out of Blue Ridge GA also lost her husband as early as February this year. She is also unable to do much herself and so we were able to do a ton of landscaping and yard work for her that she couldn't afford. I was particularly impressed with this group of young adults as they finished the large job in half the time I was expecting!
Thank you to those that have supported us in our community efforts! We appreciate the prayers and the funding. This year of 2021 Vessel has accomplished 22 service projects, including some one-offs we have done throughout the year. We have two more before the year is through. Thank you Jesus for the ability and desire to serve your kingdom.