HENDERSON, N.C. — In a double-wide behind Rebuilding Hope, four middle-school kids sit around a table with Bibles laid open in front of them as they listen to Pastor Greg Richardson talk about prayer.
“When we pray, we should tell God how great He is,” Richardson said.
He’s the youth pastor at Carey Baptist Church. The four children are attentive.
“I know y’all are young, but you can learn to pray by yourselves,” he tells them.
Richardson’s conversation at Rebuilding Hope in Henderson is part of a kids’ camp that teaches basic construction skills and gives hands-on experience they can use at home.
It is also an opportunity for local youth to begin a dialogue about the need for faith.
Campers ranging from 7-year-olds to high school students rotated through different sessions to practice laying bricks, hammering nails and plumbing during the three-day camp that started last Monday and wrapped up Wednesday.
At one session, they learned how to build a wooden birdhouse to take home.
Laney Wilkes was finishing her new birdhouse Tuesday and said she wants to put it outside in her playhouse, next to where one of her younger sister’s birdhouses sits.
The 8-year-old said she came to camp Monday and has some practice building objects out of wood with hammers and nails from when she made a cross in another church activity.
Laney came from her Wake Forest home to the construction camp in Henderson, where her dad is a pastor in New Life Baptist Church.
The session that takes place in the doublewide teaches campers spiritual lessons to strengthen their faith at home.
Randolph Wilson, founder and director of Rebuilding Hope, organized the construction camp for the first time this year.
When 24 kids showed up, Wilson’s wife, Gail, said she was pleasantly surprised, especially since few kids actually registered through the sign-up sheets that circulated in local churches.
Rebuilding Hope, a non-profit Christian organization, provides labor and materials, often completely free, for local homeowners and renters who can’t afford to fix their homes.
Randolph Wilson said Rebuilding Hope volunteers do repairs for free, and the faith-based group purchases materials for projects when the homeowner doesn’t have the money.
He said funding comes from local churches and individuals.
Last year, the group built 30 wheelchair ramps in the community and this spring, the volunteers worked on 19 houses.
Jason Roberson, a Rebuilding Hope volunteer, joined the kids in the doublewide as Richardson plainly explained to them the Lord’s Prayer.
Roberson, 32, said the ministry at Rebuilding Hope serves local kids to keep them off the streets where the pressures of drugs and gang involvement are strong.
“These kids need role models,” said Roberson, who has volunteered for four years at Rebuilding Hope.
“If they have role models here, they won’t look to role models on the streets.”
He said the construction activities, like brick laying, still relate back to a life of faith.
“They lay the bricks, and set the foundation,” Roberson said.
“If they follow Christ, the house will be built.”