Lincoln County resident Lucretia Ward was nothing but complimentary of Carolina Cross Connection, a Christian ministry that showed up to her home on Friday and immediately got to work.
The organization can trace its humble beginnings to Lincoln County in the early 1980s, when a group of students from First United Methodist Church were inspired by a service project in which they helped with minor home improvement projects while ministering to needy families. Thirty-one years later, Carolina Cross Connection is carrying on the work, and residents like Ward could not be more pleased.
Diagnosed in 2001 with multiple sclerosis, Ward navigates her home in a wheelchair. Though she initially contacted the MS Society about having a ramp put in her home, it was Carolina Cross Connection that contacted her. Rather than installing a ramp – as the group has done before on different projects – CCC instead put the finishing touches on a walk-in shower that was installed in Ward’s home.
“We painted and cleaned the windows,” said Mary Nell Williams, 17, a third-year camper from Georgia.
The projects that CCC will take on range anywhere from painting to installation of new flooring, but it’s more than just construction assistance and home improvement that the group provides.
“There are a lot of social aspects to what we do,” said Matt Barnabie. The oldest person on the worksite, Barnabie also hails from Georgia and is a seven-year veteran of Carolina Cross Connection’s ministry. “Some of these people are shut-ins. We can’t do it all but we do our best. Ultimately, we are trying to do what Jesus would do.”
“We’re trying to be His hands and feet,” said Tyler Perez, 14, of Forest City. This is Perez’s third summer working with Carolina Cross Connection.
According to Molly Hayes, the camp director for this summer, people have come from as far as Virginia to participate in the program. Donations keep the work going, either through material donations or monetary gifts. In comparison to other church ministries that travel around the country, doing similar work, Hayes emphasized why Carolina Cross Connection was important to her and why it was crucial to work as locally as possible.
“Jesus first (ministered) to His friends and the people He lived around and it’s clear we should do the same,” she said.
Hayes also made it abundantly clear that, regardless of the names and faces attached to a project, they weren’t in it for the credit.
“None of this would happen without God. All glory goes to Him,” she said.
Matt Hinson, a Denver resident, has been attending the summer camps for seven years, but this is his first as the Camp Coordinator. He ensures that every job site has the materials it needs.
“It opens my eyes,” he said, when asked what the ministry working in his own back yard meant to him. “The entire time I went to East Lincoln Middle School, I didn’t know that there were this many people in need. It changes my view of where I live.”
Ward had nothing but kind words to say about the group and the people that shared her home with her for a few hours on Friday. The fact that they were voluntarily helping her and others in the community with needs that were struggling to be met was not lost on her.
“To give up their time…that says something about these kids,” she said. “What a great thing it says about them. Giving up their summer, a month of their summer, a week of their summer, a day, even an hour, that means so much to me. It makes me want to pay it forward.”
While Ward was very appreciative of the campers with Carolina Cross Connection, Barnabie expressed his gratitude for her.
“I’d do the same for my mother or sister. We’re all Jesus’ family. We’re community,” he said.
For more information on Carolina Cross Connection, visit www.carolinacrossconnection.org.