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If You Can Build a House, You Can Build a Life


Dr. Burns, pictured center, talks with members of his Hillcrest youth group.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – Mountain Outreach volunteers have grown accustomed to the influx of church groups and other volunteers who come in week after week to assist the construction ministry. But during the week of July 9-14, the program experienced something new.

“We have seen an evolution,” said Marc Hensley, director of Mountain Outreach. “This group has been able to bond in a way perhaps not possible in any other setting. It’s been the greatest thing in the world to watch.”


Hillcrest youth group members help to raise an exterior wall of a Mountain Outreach house.

Fifteen male and female youth group members of Lexington’s Hillcrest Baptist Church worked with Cumberlands’ construction ministry to paint and build sub floors, walls and ramps.

“As we got to learn more about the youth, there’s an interesting aspect about this youth group. Most of the kids who are here this week, their parents don’t go to church or to Hillcrest. Some of these kids have had rough childhoods,” said Hensley.

According to Hensley, many other youth group volunteers come with parents who have taken them to church their entire lives. These Hillcrest students choose to go to church on their own.

Although, much like other volunteers, the youth group did not have prior construction experience, they gained much more than how to swing a hammer.

“Most of these girls would never think of hammering a nail, but when they see a girl a couple years older than them [i.e. a University of Cumberlands Student/Mountain Outreach volunteers] doing it and going to college and bettering their lives, it gives them someone to look up to,” said Dr. Bob Burns, Hillcrest youth group minister.

The youth group, whose ages range from 15-18 years old, worked alongside their college-aged counterparts. After a day’s worth of construction and painting, the groups joined together for a night of worship service. The teams also convened for all meals, adding to the bonding experience.

When asked how construction ministry is a good team building tool, Burns said, “They [youth group members] learn new skills and accomplish something fulfilling and see what they have done, not like ministering to children and going into homes for the elderly, where you feel like you’re doing something good, but can’t see in concrete terms what work you’ve done. When you build something for somebody and they thank you for it, you can see the work you’ve done, and it’s a lot more fulfilling—especially for our group.”

Hensley added, “It’s a ministry in every aspect—even the ones who minister will be ministered to.”


Dr. Tony Hancock, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, is also a Board of Trustee member at University of the Cumberlands