A Middle Tennessee mission team recently restored a mobile home in rural Richardson Creek and helped a man repossess his home that was uninhabitable after a leaking roof caused mold to grow.
The project was organized by the Ministry Of One Accord, which has been recruiting missionary teams in Hawkins County to provide home repairs to those in need for more than 30 years.
In its heyday, the ministry’s home repair program allowed for up to 30 projects a year, ranging from tasks as small as building a patio or wheelchair-accessible ramp, to tasks as large as complete home renovations or even building a house from the ground up.
In recent years the program has seen cutbacks and reduced projects, and when COVID struck in 2020 there was no mission or projects.
Department director Sheldon Livesay told Review that the building repair program has recovered over the past two years, with five mission teams completing eight projects in 2021 and ten mission teams completing 17 projects in 2022.
“Ruined the inside of his house”
Among those 2022 projects is the Jamey Seals residence, which actually hosts two mission teams at the home on Rt. 66N near the intersection of Clinch Valley Road.
The leaking tower had previously been repaired, but not before mold took over the house, forcing Mr Seals to retire to a reasonably livable space in the trailer.
Earlier this summer, the Mell Baptist Association of Tifton, Georgia, completed the first phase of the repair, which included gutting the interior, installing new insulation, building a new patio, and putting up walls in the kitchen and dining room.
Two weeks ago, the Englewood Baptist Church of Englewood Tennessee completed the second phase of the repair, finishing the deck with railings, installing the cabinets in the kitchen, connecting the water and septic tank, finishing installing the interior walls, and resetting the furniture.
Seals works odd jobs but has no steady income and was unable to pay for the repairs.
“It just ruined the inside of his house,” Livesay said. “He had to rip out all his walls and he didn’t have the money to do any repairs. The only room he was able to save was the back bedroom and he has literally been living in a room for the last 2-3 years trying to find someone who can help him get it back. He has a son and a nephew who want to live with him if we can get that back to a livable condition.”
Livesay added: “Jamey is a giver. He works with the Rescue Squad in Sneedville. He works at one of the fire departments. He is everywhere you go trying to help people. So most of the time he’s more on the giving side than the receiving side and it’s just a shame to see people who get into that situation and there’s nobody to help them.”
The mission program jumps back
At one time we were seeing 25-30 home repairs a year,” Livesay said. “We were part of the so-called Appalachian Regional Ministries through the Baptist Church. They had a well defined website and any church that wanted to do missionary work even if you weren’t a baptist you could go to that website and click on the state and it showed all the ministries you would take up if you wanted to go around there to do missionary work.”
Livesay added, “The Southern Baptist Association wanted to redirect their efforts to Suberbia, so in 2018 they dissolved the Appalachian Regional Ministries and the site shut down. There were a few teams that managed to find us over the next few years, but after the outbreak of COVID, zero teams came in in 2020. No home repairs.”
Livesay said he is staying in touch with the mission teams who came to Hawkins County earlier to update them that Of One Accord is still in the home repair business.
30 projects to complete
Prior to 2018, the program had a full-time mission team leader whose salary was paid from a small fee. Mission teams were asked to pay for each member they brought. This position had to be closed due to lack of funds.
Livesay and some volunteers have taken on the responsibilities of leading the mission team. But because there’s no salary to pay, Of One Accord’s mission teams now come to Hawkins County for free.
“That makes Rogersville more attractive because it’s a lot cheaper for mission teams to come here,” Livesay said. “I hope this will lead to an increase in new mission teams coming to the area. It’s a much needed service. If we had enough mission teams this summer, 30 projects would easily need to be completed. I’m sure the need is greater, but I know of 30.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the Of One Accord Ministry’s home repair mission is encouraged to call Livesay at (423) 921-8044.