By Lee Weyhrich
The Bible tells the story of a man named Nehemiah, tasked with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem to protect it from its enemies. Nehemiah traveled from far-away Susa in Persia to a land that was not his own. Over the course of 12 years he succeeds in rebuilding the walls of the city, and the community itself, despite all obstacles. That story is inspiring a group of missionaries from Faith Community Fellowship in Trussville to build their own protective walls in a far-away land.
Pastor Steve McCarty, parishioner Rick Stotser and a group of missionaries traveled to Costa Rica in November to help some local pastors expand their facilities. While there, the missionaries learned there was a real need for an orphanage
“It is a large problem,” Stotser said. “The average Costa Rican lives way below the poverty line. They will give their children to the orphanage just for the chance of that child getting training and education.”
McCarty decided then that his mission, and that of his church, was going to be building an orphanage. Within 48 hours of that decision, the missionaries were offered 10 acres adjacent to a local pastor’s property. Although the land was essentially donated by the owner, the church wants to pay for it.
That cost, and the cost of building and funding the orphanage, will require a lot of money. The church opened a charity called House of Hope to raise and channel that funding. In an unrelated turn of events, McCarty began work on a sermon series called “Restore,” about Nehemiah’s work in Jerusalem.
“I was preaching my message series on Nehemiah, and about a month ago I started talking with my graphic arts guy about visuals,” McCarty said. “I wanted the theme to be about remodeling a house, or something along those lines. Rick (Stotser) suggested a car.”
The graphic artist worked up a visual that included a 1940s-era Ford.
“One of our people went out looking for vehicles, and without knowing the visual the graphic artist had come up with, found a ‘48 Ford,” McCarty said.
McCarty decided the church would restore that 1948 Ford. It has become a symbol of the sermon series. It will also be sold to raise money for the orphanage.
“Jan. 6, we literally brought it into our sanctuary and I preached about what it was like for Nehemiah to restore the walls,” McCarty said. “All the proceeds will go to the House of Hope. It is basically the idea of restoration; restoring the car and going over to Costa Rica and restoring hope.”
The restoration project began Jan. 7. The church has paid for part of the restoration, and the rest was donated. Several parts have been donated. Much of the labor has been donated by a mechanic from the congregation. The original straight-six engine is being utilized. The exterior and interiors are being done at a reduced rate.
“Everything we needed was right here on Highway 11 within a mile of our church,” McCarty said. “Southern Comfort did the body work and painting, and a local upholsterer is doing the seats. The neat thing is, we have had a lot of men involved with this build that I had no idea had all this expertise.”
The community worked day and night in order to unveil the car at Sunday’s church service. After that, it will be moved to the church’s satellite location in Pell City for viewing. No plans have been made official after that. The church has received a loose invitation to the World of Wheels auto show in Birmingham.
The church is researching different avenues for the auctioning of the car but has not yet decided on a sales method.
McCarty hopes to have the House of Hope orphanage in Costa Rica open by June.
For now, the pastor and parishioners of Faith Community Fellowship hope, like the task of Nehemiah, that an act of restoration can build a community in a far-away land.