Chattanooga First Church member Coleen Jenkins’ Cleveland, Tenn., home was badly in need of roof repair. The 1935 bungalow, which she termed “decrepit,” had been worked on years before, and a new section was added. The roof of that addition leaked in multiple places, and when it rained created a major water problem. From her limited earnings, Jenkins helps pay for her grandson’s school fees, but with frugality she saved enough money to buy the material needed to repair the roof, hoping to be able to pay someone to do the job.
Nick Joy, head deacon at Chattanooga First Church, received a call from a friend telling him about the dire situation with Jenkins’ leaky roof. Hearing the news, Joy was impressed to help. He and Rusty Williams, First Church senior pastor, went out to look at the house. What they saw convinced them there certainly was a need, and they felt impelled to help. Joy assembled a willing crew of men from the church in November 2022, but with the holidays and bad weather, work was delayed. However, on Sunday, January 15, 2023, they were ready to go. At 9 a.m., a team of 12 showed up at the house. Pooling their diverse skills, they began working.
First, they had to strip off the old shingles and tar paper. Joy, whom Jenkins calls “the coordinator” of the project and “a blessing,” borrowed a dump truck and hauled away the old shingles and tar paper. Hans Groschel used his tractor to get the new material up to the roof. The crew, which eventually numbered close to 20, included several teenagers who, as Williams observed, “had the vitality and enthusiasm to do the job.” The team worked all day, thankful for the delicious lunch that was provided.
An ironic tragedy in this effort of repairing a church member’s house roof occurred when Joy, the project’s driving force, received a frantic phone call from his wife. He remembers that he had a nail gun in his hand when he took the call in the afternoon and learned that disaster had struck his family. His wife told him their house was on fire. He dashed from the work site right away and went home to find that his house had been destroyed. He praised God that his wife and children escaped unharmed.
The remaining crew continued the job and finished after dark. “I had been praying about the roof for about a year,” Jenkins said. “God helped me through the church.” She added that even with the hard rains that have fallen since the job was done, there have been no leaks: “The roof has stood the test.”
Joy said that despite the loss he suffered that day, he was glad he had a chance to reach out and do a much-needed job. Williams, reflecting on all they had been able to accomplish that Sunday, echoed the feelings of everyone who had worked on the project when he said, “We give God the glory.”
Georgia-Cumberland | May 2023