We've been passing around a flu bug down here, and I had to take my turn. I'm back up and going now, and I need to announce the winners of the give-away . . . but not just yet. Maybe tomorrow.
Russell recently received some pictures of a current church construction project, and I thought I'd show you those today. This church is being built by a congregation in a town called Canadas de Belen. I figured I'd use the posting of these photos as an opportunity to explain how we handle assisting churches with construction projects.
First, let me make it clear that we don't ever want to step in and "give" a church building to a congregation. Does that sound awful? It has been our experience that people appreciate things they've worked for much more than they appreciate things that are given to them for nothing. In the end, we want the congregation to know that this is their church building, not ours. It isn't unusual for congregations which have received a "gift" of a church building to then assume that the giver will also pay for furnishings, maintenance, etc. We want to avoid setting up a situation like that.
Second, as you might imagine, we always have to deal with having less money for church construction than we have requests for help. That's just the way it's going to be, and we've had to figure out a way to spread out the funds to more churches, while still managing to be a legitimate help to each church.
With these goals and limitations in mind, here's what we've come up with, over the years, as a system for helping with church construction projects.
We require the church to purchase/own their land, and that land must be titled in the name of the church, not to any individual. This is important so that the building doesn't become someone's personal property after some future church squabble or something. It's been known to happen, so this requirement helps to prevent that.
Because the early stages of the construction process involve lots of labor but not much expense for purchased materials, we don't get involved in helping with the funding of a building until the walls are up. (Allen is frequently involved in giving construction advice during these stages, however.) The members of the congregation dig the footers, and haul stones, sand and gravel from the rivers to make the footers. Then they make the adobe bricks by hand, using local clay. Once the bricks are dry, they can build the walls. A small amount of cement is generally used in these early stages - some is used in the footers, some to create headers above the doors and windows, and then some to construct a concrete band around the tops of the walls, which helps to create a stronger building.
For those non-construction types amongst my readers . . . in the photo above, a bit of the footer is noted with a red circle, while a header above the door is circled in blue. The poured concrete beam around the tops of the walls is hidden behind those wooden boards, which were used to create the form to hold the concrete until it dried. Being a non-construction person myself, I have great sympathy for those who don't know the lingo. LOL.
That's how much is completed at this time on that particular church. The next step will be to build the roof structure. Usually the church will harvest wood locally, and have one of those highly skilled chainsaw guys come and cut the lumber into boards. (See this post for more on the chainsaw guys - they're pretty amazing.) Once the boards are up on the roof, then the roofing material - usually either clay tiles or metal sheet roofing - is installed. This part of the project involves an outlay of cash, so this is the part where we help churches with funds, when we can do so.
Once the roof is on, congregations often begin meeting in their church building, as the rest of the structure (doors, windows, floors, etc) is gradually completed. You can see how our limited amount of funding goes into the construction of more churches this way.
I'm posting the picture below, just because it's the kind of thing I like to show you here . . . that's the scaffolding the church members built and are using in the process of constructing this church. Kind of scary, don't you think?