Nailbenders bring blessings to The Family Church
It has been an eventful summer for the folks at The Family Church – Hardin UPC, with the construction of their brand-new church home nearing completion.
The church broke ground at a special ceremony in February, and work began when Rev. Jamie Blume drove in the very first stake on March 5.
Blume and his wife Stephanie, who just celebrated 10 years leading their church congregation, had always envisioned a July opening at the new location. Still, that process they would find was quite literally going to take an act of God.
As the Blumes were working on their end to make their goal a reality, a volunteer ministry known as the Mississippi Nailbenders were preparing to embark on their annual mission to build a pair of new churches. Both projects were set to begin Memorial Day Monday, one in Indiana and the other in Kentucky.
But as luck would have it, issues with permits and material availability led to the cancelation of those projects, which had never happened before, and an opportunity like no other would present itself and change the course of The Family Church.
“When they came in and started, I came to an understanding there was no way we could have done it in that time frame we had planned,” said Rev. Blume of his hopes for a July opening.
The project had already gone through numerous delays, especially with all the rain in the spring, and the pastor believed that they would at least have the sanctuary and restrooms ready and complete the rest as they went along.
“I think the reason all of this came to pass is that we had faith that we were going to do it; we had a vision. You know the bible says without vision you perish, and then we spoke it. I think with those three things is the way it all orchestrated out,” said Rev. Blume.
The efforts of the Nailbenders, led by Mack Honea, a retired high school football coach from Mississippi, made that vision, faith and belief a reality.
Mack and his twin brother Jack began their mission in 1983 when they traveled to New Mexico and worked on a church on an Apache Reservation. By 1994, the group had incorporated, and the first Nailbender crew was born.
Since then, the group has set out to build churches over five weeks across the country each summer. Over that time, they have constructed over 100 churches in 26 states and have even made eight trips to Cuba, building the first church there since 1946 in the summer of 2012.
They are made up of hundreds of volunteers from states like Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas. Volunteers from as young as junior high students pay $75 to spend a week building churches and forging relationships that last a lifetime.
When the cancellations of their planned projects came about, it was suggested by a mutual connection that the work was underway on the new church in Hardin, and within two weeks’ time, the Nailbenders were set to bring their talents here locally.
The organization requires that the exterior building work is completed and cement is poured before they begin a job, and with that out of the way and the materials in hand, volunteers arrive ready to work.
“They had the slab poured, had the red iron, had the walls up, had the ceiling and roof on, and they sprayed the insulation. And they were going to finish the rest of it, they thought,” Honea exclaimed, “but when they saw 40 men in here last week standing all these walls up, they said ‘naw, we’ll be two years.”
While the construction job was daunting, the church’s work allowed the volunteers to bring in smaller crews over just three weeks to complete most of the work.
“We planned on doing a lot of this work ourselves, which was going to stretch our timeline out. We’re a small church doing quite a big upgrade in this building, so we were going to do the work ourselves, and that would have been taxing on us,” said Rev. Blume.
Unbelievably all the labor performed by the Nailbenders cost the church nothing, saving the church a large amount of the total cost. Not only is the work free, but they decline donations and only ask folks to join their mission.
The new facility will significantly expand the church’s mission, with a much larger sanctuary, fellowship hall and Sunday school classrooms, which they did not have in their old building. Rev. Blume believes the new facility will allow them to serve the Hardin community better.
“We’ve always have been very community involved at our church. We are Hardin, and we want to make a difference in our community,” he said. While here, crews were housed at First United Methodist Church in Liberty and were able to take showers at Liberty High School, and they also received assistance from Hardin Baptist Church. Rev. Blume was grateful for the community’s help and how this project indeed became a community affair.
“I told my pastor that Baptists were going to Texas to build a Pentecostal church, sleeping in the Methodist church. I said God’s smiling down, saying look at my children doing what I told them to do. Get along and work together,” said Honea.
Rev. Blume believes that served as an even greater message that went far beyond denominations.
“I think it’s Kingdom,” he said.
The church’s roots in Hardin date back to the 1950s, and the Blumes believe they have prospered by delivering God’s message. That message and word are now at the heart of the new church, as church members and volunteers wrote scripture, along with their names, on the framing of the church walls.
There was also a time capsule placed under the pulpit in the sanctuary with a bible signed by churchgoers with other items that would serve as a foundation.
“That way, you’re always standing on God’s word,” said Stephanie Blume.
Everyone involved with the project joined together for a service as the church welcomed the mission workers into their family during construction and beyond.
That relationship is already paying dividends and will continue in the future as the Blume’s and other members of The Family Church plan to join the Nailbenders next year on their mission.
Now the church is working to complete some sheet rocking, painting, and flooring work, as they wait for the electricity and air conditioning to go in.
As for the church opening, the Blumes are excited to say that they expect to open in the second week of July, keeping true to their goal by the grace of God.
“We had faith we were going to do it,” exclaimed Rev. Blume. For more information on The Family Church, visit them at Facebook.com/tfchardin, and plan to join them at 9456 HWY 146 N. this July.