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Baptist Missionary Builders

By March 1, 2007June 6th, 2014No Comments

Since the beginning of Baptist Missionary Builders sixteen years ago, the agency has assisted churches with over fifty building projects. Their missionary crew can take a building project from bare ground to completion. Martin Eaton, director of Baptist Missionary Builders, tells of the rewarding work of outfitting church facilities for ministry.

Why did you personally get involved in this work?

The Lord stimulated my interest in the construction ministry through my pastorates. When I was pastoring a small church in upstate New York, I worked construction as a second vocation. During that time the church family and I constructed our own church building. When I visited several mission churches, I became burdened about the need for building assistance. One day Leigh Adams of Baptist Mid- Missions wrote to me, asking if I knew of any Christian workers from our church building project who would be interested in joining their mission agency. None of the workers seemed interested, so I threw the letter into the wastebasket.

Several times I pulled the letter out and threw it back into the basket. As I thought and prayed about Leigh’s inquiry, I finally followed the Lord’s leading. Lucille and I spent eight and a half years building with Baptist Mid-Missions. Later we helped form Baptist Missionary Builders. We’re glad we are part of this. We’ve seen many people saved; some are men who have helped us on the building projects. These men have wives who attend the church. The one-on-one relationships that our men establish with unsaved men can blossom into salvation. That’s exciting.

What types of assistance does Baptist Missionary Builders give to churches?

We assist churches in building structures with an average size of seven thousand to ten thousand square feet. In addition to working with our own hands, we supervise volunteer help. We encourage the men and women of the church to drive nails, to work as much as they can on the building. On Saturdays, as well as Tuesday and Thursday nights, we schedule volunteer help. Usually I ask for several individuals to assist us at a time, telling them the specific job—whether it’s hanging sheetrock, painting, etc. That way the volunteers can assist in the area of their ability.

What is your financial arrangement with churches?

For the missionaries who are working at the church and need support beyond what they are already receiving, the church picks up the difference—from $100 to $350 per week. About half of our missionaries do not need support from the churches they assist. They just require a place to park their trailer or a place to live. We do expect the church to contribute approximately $1.25 per square foot to the general fund of the mission agency. This fund pays for our operating expenses, including the transportation of the missionaries from location to location, and helps pay for an annual retreat for our mission’s family—the BMB missionaries and staff. Our mission agency is not large; we have no paid staff. The church pays for the cost of the plans and materials. When the plans are completed, I give the church a ballpark figure on how much the building is going to cost. With our assistance, these buildings cost $50 to $55 per square foot.

Tell us about the current project you are doing in Pennsylvania.

We’re working on Northmoreland Baptist Church in Centermoreland, Pennsylvania, a rural area in the Endless Mountains. The church’s pastor, James Howell, has been there twenty-five years. I met with the church ten years ago in preparation for the project. They have bought property and have raised an additional three hundred thousand dollars. This past year we started constructing a sixteen-thousand-square-foot U-shaped building. As you walk into the main entrance, there are church offices on the right; straight ahead is the church auditorium, which seats three hundred. To the left are fourteen classrooms, and beyond are the kitchen and fellowship hall.

When a church inquires about the possibility of building, can you give a time frame for the completion of the construction?

Yes, we can give an approximate date for completion. Additional factors we have to consider are the number of workers and helpers available, as well as the complexity of the project. Five missionaries are working on this current project, which will take a year-plus. We also do remodeling for churches, which requires shorter amounts of time.

Do you have a waiting list of churches?

Yes, many of the churches on the waiting list are in the process of designing their buildings. During that process we may help them by giving suggestions to make the design more economical. We have about thirty months of projects in front of us. We do have openings into which we can fit in smaller projects for a couple of months.

How are you seeing God at work in your ministry?

People are being saved through the buildings that we have built. Also the Lord works in our own lives spiritually. We have opportunities to share the Word of God with people who work with us. It’s thrilling to see them accept Christ or strengthen their walk with the Lord. Some believers make decisions of total commitment to the Lord. We’ve had people who have worked with us and then have become missionary builders. We’re here to serve the Lord—working with the men and with the church. The building project gives individuals an opportunity to serve the Lord with the gifts God has given them. They may not have other talents, but they can serve the Lord with their hands.

Do you find that people seem freer to talk about their spiritual needs when they are working on the project?

Yes, they will talk about their needs. If I can tell that something is on a fellow’s mind as we are working together, I will say something like, “You know, you don’t seem very happy today.” One thing leads to another, and I can get my New Testament out of the truck and talk to this fellow about the Lord. At a building project for Calvary Baptist Church in Newark, New York, a gentleman volunteered to help us every Saturday. His wife attended the church, but he didn’t. On the church dedication Sunday he walked forward to trust Christ.

What challenges do the missionaries face in this way of life?

The challenges are unique because the missionaries are away from family. Most likely the new ones have never been away from family for that long of a time. When the missionaries are grandparents, they naturally want to be near their children and grandchildren. It’s tough; they get lonely. They have to be more aggressive in making friends. When they go to a new place, they need to start over in finding the grocery store, doctor’s office, dentist’s office, and post office. If the finances are short, they are stretching every penny. Young families either homeschool their children or send them to a Christian school if the church has a school. Lucille and I appreciate the graciousness of this church in Pennsylvania. They take us out to dinner and invite us to their homes. They encouraged us to take a couple days off and go to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and even gave us money for the trip.

Do you accept new builders? If so, what is the process for applying?

The process is similar to that of applying to other mission agencies. The prospective missionaries complete an application. We check on their references. The board of directors has a personal interview with them. They must sign that they agree with our doctrinal statement. Then they are ready to raise support; or if they don’t need support, we assign them to a project.

Tell us about a time when something happened that made you think, “I’m really glad I’m in this ministry.”

We were assisting a Baptist church in Carney’s Point, New Jersey, and involved with the seniors ministry. When we arrived at the meeting one night, there was a huge box in the room. The people said, “We know it’s your birthday, and we want to give you something so you can remember us.” We had worked with the church a long time, putting up a new building and remodeling the old one. In this box was a new lawn mower. These dear people made us a part of their family. The men were retired and worked with us every day. They swept the floor and helped us with a variety of jobs, even working on the roof. It was a joy to be part of that family relationship. The people with whom we work will always be our friends. If we took a trip across the United States, we probably wouldn’t have to stay in any motels, because there would be homes open to us.

If a church would be interested in seeking assistance, what procedure should they follow?

They could contact me at 1-614-783-4996 or We will work with a church by meeting with its building committee. We can fly to wherever the church is located if the church will pick up the cost of the flight. We’ll be glad to help in any way we can. Also, it would be great to hear from a builder if he and his family are interested in serving the Lord with our Baptist Missionary Builders team.

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