a church. This is because Friends and others have been willing to shoulder these costs themselves either through direct donations or through indirect purchase of services such as the air or train or car fare to get to the site as a volunteer or working as volunteers themselves. And our volunteers are the true unsung heroes as they all pay $150 a week for the privilege of working! The labor to rebuild a burned church can cost between $90,000 to $225,000 depending on the size of the church and the paying volunteers themselves raise half those costs.
We know that down through history, Christians and others who hear God's call to discipleship respond. It is often that in so doing, discipleship becomes a way of life and one of the ways to respond is through workcamping.
When our most elderly Friends today speak to me or write to me about their early experiences as workcampers after the war, they speak about the clear call to them to discipleship and about their workcamp as a life-transforming experience. A headmistress who had a life-long disability with MS told me she wanted to bring her senior class on a Quaker workcamp on the strength of one she did decades ago in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She said, "Somewhere in this house, there is a picture of me as a teenager, ecstatically digging a ditch!" These elders perfectly understand the same metamorphosis when the returned church rebuilders talk about their amazing experiences as workcampers. They understand that when young people respond to real human need in workcamping, they gain intuitive insight into the ultimate power of that experience not as a picture of a life eternal somehow off in the future but what Jesus talked about when he said in the Gospel of John, 10:10, I come so that you may have life more abundant!" This is the transforming experience of the Spirit led life, lived in a community of service oriented people from a variety of backgrounds in which they suddenly realize they are participating in that new community, now, today!
Hear it in the words of Tim McCarthy, a student from Columbia University who tried to express this intuitive insight into what life is really all about, in an article he wrote about his workcamp experience in Greensboro, Alabama:
"In the shared context of a Quaker workcamping in which hard work, peaceful consensus, and respect for diversity are paramount values, people with elsewhere intractable differences worked in concert with one another. hammering nails, stuffing insulation, cutting sheet rock, sharing modes of worship, singing 1960's worksongs and 1980's pop rock and timeless hymns, eating grits and catfish, playing basketball, praying silently and out loud, expressing gratitude, laughing endlessly, and living in peace."
I ask you dear Friends today, is that not one of the best contemporary expressions of what Jesus called "life abundant?" God is calling us to be peace making disciples like Tim McCarthy and his interfaith compatriots.... Dare we not follow? p
Quotation by Tim McCarthy is from "From Ashes Comes Hope," Columbia Daily Spectator, March 27, 1997.