“There’s enough work to be done around here for the next 25 years,” says our community partner Jack Fultz as we drive around McDowell County in his full size donated mini van. I take another drink of my fifth water bottle of the day as air conditioning are not commonly heard words down here, and the hot sticky air seems to be quite persistent. “There are good people here, and they really appreciate what we do, that’s why it’s just a good area to do this work, ” comments Jack as we go from house to house looking for ways to help. We have come to discover that this County is full of history and life, but many have maybe lost hope because of the living standards. Jack and Brenda Fultz, the full time missionaries living here, have helped build up those standards and with that bring even more hope.
McDowell County used to be the biggest coal-mining spot in the world, but has now been reduced to the poorest community in the country. Coal mining is still present today, but nowhere near the same scale it once was. The severe deterioration of the county is obvious from the dilapidated houses, lack of jobs, and shortage of hope. Our job this summer, partnering with the groups that come down, is to help repair and rebuild as much of that as we can.
Jack and Brenda own an old school in Gary that they have been working on and out of for about three years. It is now called the School for Life, and started our as just a ministry by Jack and Brenda that was teaching people marketable skills on the old and donated computers. A few years later they now have a thrift store, are very active in the area, and have opened their school to outside groups such as Experience Mission to use for housing for weeks of service in the community. They are an amazing couple and never stop working for the Lord and for this society.
We have only been here a few days, but have already seen some huge ways we can serve, and are excited for how God will move this summer. These past few days have been spent cleaning kitchens, rooms and bathrooms from top to bottom in order for the teams to arrive. The work is hard, and the heat is stifling, but the goal is great. We are in great anticipation for the coming summer and teams coming down. We ask for your prayer over safety and health this summer, that God’s hand would fall on this community, and that we would continue to further the work Jack and Brenda have already begun.