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A Walk of Faith in Service with Mountain Outreach


On a recent Mountain Outreach project, Dr. Leskiw is seen here working with students and the community in constructing a porch for a family in Williamsburg.

Testimony and wisdom through the eyes of Dr. Christopher Leskiw, a professor in the History and Political Science Department at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. Leskiw routinely volunteers his time and talents to the mission based Mountain Outreach organization on nights, weekends, University breaks, and each summer as the program and its volunteers attempt to make a difference through Christ for the people of Appalachia.

Williamsburg, Ky. I had just stepped foot on solid ground again when it was made abundantly clear to me that I would need to make yet another trip back up the ladder. It was July, it was over 100 degrees, and we were laying a black shingle roof. My boots stuck to the shingles as I walked over the roof to assess the damage. The reason for my quick return to the roof was a simple and innocent enough question, ‘do we have any more shingles?’ The problem for me was the person asking the question, “Zac” an energetic 13 year old who was caught between two worlds. One world where as a child you could fool around and be cute and another world where you were a teenager that had to seem cool at all times. Zac was at this awkward stage where he would laugh at inappropriate times and try to capture the attention of some girls in his youth group who had traveled to aid Mountain Outreach (MO) in their construction ministry. I was supervising a 30 plus member youth group in the construction of a porch deck, roof, and a whole interior renovation of a home. It seemed that every job Zac did that week turned out to be a disaster in my eyes. So I had brought him in close to me and put him to work shingling the new roof. Zac consistently – though not purposefully- destroyed shingle after shingle as he put nails in the wrong place, cut through existing shingles, etc. My patience was gone, yet God helped me hold my tongue and instead pass Zac a new nail or shingle.

When it came time for this youth group to leave, they gathered for one last devotion session. The Pastor provided some time for students to speak and share how God had acted in their lives during this mission trip, Zac stood but couldn’t get the words out due to his emotions. He stood and tears ran down his face and his voice squeaked. Finally, he could share his heart, and in an instant, I was brought to tears with him. You see, Zac’s dad was killed in Iraq a few months prior to this mission trip, and Zac said he hated God and didn’t want to come to Kentucky to serve the Lord. Yet with every nail he bent and shingle that had to be torn off, he saw God’s presence in his life when someone from MO would say ‘that’s not a big deal’ and give him another nail or another shingle. I had totally missed the point of God including me in His plans to serve His Kingdom.

Here I thought I was doing His will by managing a large construction site and praying at the start and finish of projects. What I had not done was to focus on showing His Love. There were always those MO college students who would show that love to the homeowners or the mission teams that were helping us, but I thought it was my job to just be the construction guy. I was wrong. Those few words Zac had spoken had humbled me and drew me closer to Christ as I begged for forgiveness for having the wrong intentions all this time- to build a house, instead of building His Kingdom. After that day, the quote from Psalm 127 that is on the back of all MO T-shirts -“Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who built it” -had new meaning to me. I’m not going to say I have it all worked out now, but I do know that the service opportunities provided by Mountain Outreach have changed my life and my walk of faith.