Some congregations have the resources to build their churches. When the resources aren’t there, Mississippi Nailbenders is one of the groups that can help.
Founded by twin brothers Mack and Jack Honea, Mississippi Nailbenders has been building churches worldwide since 1994 using a total of five teams — one each week for five weeks.
The idea to work in five weeks began at a family reunion with Mack and Jack talking to their first cousin, Don Griffin, who was going on a missions trip to build a church in Louisiana. During the preceding 11 years when the men had done the typical one-week trips, they were always asked by the churches if they could find other groups to finish the job.
“We started talking about getting five teams to follow each other starting Memorial Day weekend and through the month of June,” Mack said. “At first, we only had about 15 to 20 men in each group. Crews today run from 45 to 110 per week.”
Place for everyone
Nailbenders’ crews grew organically. Every church they built sent a few of their members to help the next year. There is a place for anyone who wants to serve — men, women and teens — and they are trained for the jobs needed except for framing the building the first week when only men 18 and older are included.
“Each person pays their own expenses, which runs about $120 per person for food for the week and contributes toward fuel cost,” Jack said. “We tell local churches that we need certain skills — framers, electricians, Sheetrock, Sheetrock taping & mudding, painting, etc. — and God will bring them forth.”
Teens make up a big portion of the later crews, and expectations are laid out before they leave.
“We tell the youth that they are there to serve and not be waited on. They have devotions every night before they go to bed and share testimonies and tell about their days’ experiences,” Mack said.
It’s not all work, though. Jack said that it “becomes a type of youth rally” and that they love to help. In addition, the Nailbenders took the youth swimming and to Buc-ee’s on their recent build in Quinton, Alabama.
The church has to provide places to sleep, cook and shower. Crew members can bring air mattresses, come in RVs or stay in local hotels or homes. If there’s no option for a shower, the Nailbenders can bring the one donated by Disaster Relief.
The first week the ministry brings supplies such as fish fryers, grills, pots, pans and serving utensils for cooking; ladders, scaffolding and extension cords for the build; and power boxes and water hoses to run to the campers. These supplies stay on site until the crew for week five takes them back to Mississippi.
Though women can choose to work alongside the men, many like to help with meals.
“We let the local church provide desserts, so their women won’t get upset with us,” Jack said. “And we eat all of [the desserts].”
Churches are chosen based on the need to expand due to growth and not being able to afford financing while also paying for the materials needed.
Though building a church is a great way to serve, sharing the gospel with the teams and the community takes priority.
Each team member gets a matching Mississippi Nailbenders t-shirt with Matthew 12:6 — “But I say unto you, that in this place is One greater than the temple” — on the front and back to be worn throughout the week.
“Every time someone goes to town, we make sure they have their Nailbenders shirts on. After five weeks, these yellow Mississippi Nailbenders shirts are well known in town,” Mack said.
Both men have learned over the years that God will provide everything needed — from accommodations to skilled workers to the physical materials. They also are learning how to slow down and find out where God is working so they can join in.
“We have more fun working, joking and enjoying this beautiful world He has provided for us,” Mack said.
‘At least one trip’
Mack and Jack encourage everyone to go on at least one missions trip in their lives.
“It will not be a bad experience. It might show you that it is not your ministry, so look for another and you will know when you find it,” Jack said.
Along with a new building, Mississippi Nailbenders always leaves something special behind.
“Under the stage where the pastor stands is a box with a Bible in it so that the pastor is always standing on the Word of God when he is preaching,” Mack said. “We don’t feel like we are putting up a building but that we are building a temple to God.”