Bridging the Generational Gap in Construction
For decades, Builders For Christ volunteers have used their construction skills to bless churches and schools here in the United States and abroad. Meanwhile, our Build Up: Mentoring Teens in Trades program is only a few months old. Teens in this program have little to no construction knowledge and want to establish a better life for themselves.
As Builders For Christ (BFC) volunteers help Build Up program participants gain valuable construction skills, participants from Build Up will in turn be able to help with BFC projects. While something like this might sound idealistic, I’ve seen that it’s possible.
Builders For Christ volunteers on a project site in Appleton, WI summer of 2019.
In spring of 2020, I took two of my kids down to Lubbock, TX. The BFC project there was nearly done, but drywall still needed to be installed. I know BFC volunteers could easily do this themselves, but I think they appreciated having younger people to help with the heavy lifting.
My kids and veteran volunteers were initially shy toward one another, but as both groups started talking, friendships began to form. My kids even wrote cards to some of the people they had served with, one of whom was Robert Browning.
Robert had been with BFC for several years. He was the kind of man that if you met him once, it was like you had known him forever. My kids loved hearing his stories. When we found out Robert had cancer, it made our hearts stop. Sadly, Robert passed away in mid-October 2020. I know my kids will remember the lessons he shared for years to come. And I am thankful they got to meet a man with such a solid faith.
As our Build Up program continues to grow, the goal is for those valuable life lessons to be passed from one generation to the next. Life lessons that don’t just apply to construction, but also to faith. Some teenagers who are part of the Build Up program don’t have a close connection, or any connection at all, with their Savior. I want to give BFC volunteers the opportunity to witness their faith, and for Build Up teens to experience the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
Encourage young people as they grow closer to God and learn new skills.
Build Up program participants receive on-the-job training to help build their skills and prepare them for potential future work in the construction field.
One of the Build Up program participants, KJ, told me, “[This program] means a lot. My family is actually proud that I am taking this route.” It’s inspiring to see the young people’s faces light up as they learn a new skill. It is equally heartwarming to watch someone pass on their skills and faith in Jesus to a young person. Peter, one of the five BFC volunteers who helped teach some of the Build Up teens, told me, “This has been a great chance to share my skills with the kids and has been a wonderful experience.”
I’m hopeful about the future of both these programs. When we offer up our lives to God in service of others, amazing things can happen for God’s glory.