Laborers For Christ

Laborers For Christ: Working Hard for a Church ‘Not Even Their Own’

July 25, 2017 | Posted by Joe Russo

It’s been some 15 years since Bob and Carolyn Femovich visited churches where Carolyn’s parents served with LCEF’s Laborers For Christ. But Bob never forgot the dedication and camaraderie of Christians working together to strengthen ministry.

“We saw firsthand what Laborers meant to congregations, not only financially but spiritually and to the life of the church,” Bob Femovich said, recalling the construction sites where Orlyn and Dorothy Schlie – longtime Laborers and Carolyn’s parents – worked for congregations that were building and expanding.

When Concordia Lutheran Church in Macungie, Pennsylvania, decided to expand, Femovich wanted his own congregation to experience what he calls an “amazing ministry.”

Initial reluctance

Although Bob and Carolyn knew all about Laborers For Christ, they were the exception at their church.

When Bob, chair of the Concordia building committee, proposed participating in the Laborers For Christ program to build a much needed 11,000 square foot addition, his suggestion met with reluctance. That is until congregants began working with these men and women who traveled to Macungie from Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama, Kansas, Illinois, South Carolina and Indiana.

“People started seeing how positive Laborers are and how hard they work for a church that’s not even their own church,” Femovich said of the Laborers team.

“Some Laborers had 10 years on me, and they worked circles around me,” Femovich, 67, said with a laugh. “I worked two days a week and went home exhausted, and they worked five!”

The LFC team also lived in their RVs parked on the church grounds for much of last year.

Professional and patient

People of all ages worked alongside Laborers: college students, spouses, pastors, retirees and even locals who aren’t even members of Concordia (at least not yet). Volunteers contributed more than 5,000 hours in a congregation of some 150 communicant members.

Laborers “are so knowledgeable technically but also in dealing with people,” said Femovich. “I didn’t know how to do a lot of the jobs and used equipment I’d never used before. They were always so patient and helped me learn.”

Contractors commented on Laborers’ work ethic. “They were surprised how professional they are and how few breaks they took – just for morning devotions and lunch,” said Larry Schultz, a Concordia building committee member.

Service beyond construction site

Congregants appreciated how Laborers’ service and fellowship extended beyond the construction site. One couple sang in the church choir. The wives started a Friday morning Bible study. Laborers joined in Sunday worship while congregants took part in Laborers’ morning devotions and Thursday night dinners.

“They just jumped in and helped us with whatever needed to be done at the church – youth activities, preparing meals, gardening,” Femovich said.

Concordia’s pastor, the Rev. Waldemar Vinovskis, calls the affordability of the Laborers For Christ program a blessing. It enabled the congregation to build more in the first phase of their expansion goals than originally planned – including a larger, more welcoming narthex and spacious preschool and Sunday School classrooms to replace temporary trailers.

“Instead of sandwiching ministry in cramped corners and tight spaces, we have this beautiful space where we can engage people and build relationships so we can share Jesus,” Vinovskis said.

Strong bonds

Laborers completed their work for Concordia last September, but several returned for the addition dedication in April.

“We were there long enough that we really got to know members of the congregation. Strong bonds develop,” said Rich Wolfgang, assistant project manager, who attended with his wife, Arlene, and Laborers Paul Schmid, Rick Green and Green’s wife, Wendy.

The Concordia project marked Wolfgang’s tenth.

“It’s a calling – God calls us to do this work,” said Wolfgang, who joined Laborers For Christ after working in computer maintenance and electronics. “I think He was preparing me for this throughout my whole career.”

Partner in ministry

Along with Laborers For Christ, Concordia also used LCEF’s Capital Funding Services, Architectural Advisory Committee and loan support to build the addition.

“If not for LCEF and Laborers For Christ, we could never have accomplished our expansion,” said Bob, calling LCEF “a ministry partner that began working with us early on and in so many ways.”

On a personal note, Bob and Carolyn’s appreciation for the 18 years that her parents Orlyn Schlie, now 95, and the late Dorothy Schlie served with Laborers For Christ has grown even deeper.

Do you want to travel, meet people and, most importantly, spread the Gospel? Interested in becoming a Laborers For Christ member? Sign up here or call 800-843-5233.

AUTHOR
Joe Russo