PARKERSBURG - For the past two years members of the 14th Avenue Gospel Mission Church in south Parkersburg have been raising money to build a new house for a family in the Philippines.
Pastor Tim Burch said the house is in Aparri, a town on the coast of the North China Sea on the Luzon Island, the main island.
Burch said the project is to build one house for the Ragusante family, a family of four. The house is small with three bedrooms, a combined living room, dining room and kitchen and one bathroom, called a comfort room in the Philippines, he said.
Burch said the house is 16.5 feet wide by 20 feet long. In the U.S. a building with the dimensions would be closer to a storage shed, he said.
Although it is small, he said, it will be an upgrade.
"The house they have now is made of bamboo poles and the roof is made from dried banana leaves," he said. "Those leaves keep the water out since they have dirt floors inside."
Burch said he was not sure how long they have lived there.
"They may have been living there four years," he said. "When the typhoons come with strong winds off the North China Sea, it destroys the house and they rebuild. They go back and start putting it together again."
Burch said construction has started on the house. The lot where the house will sit was purchased for $1,500.
"In the past two weeks we have sent them $5,000 to get everything started," he said. "They do everything by hand, they dig the footers by hand and they make the rebar for the concrete, it's all put together by hand, it's very intricate work."
In March, Burch and two other church leaders, Tyler Leasure and Chris Truman, will go to the site for 10 days. It will be Burch's fourth trip to the island nation.
Burch said the first time he was there it was for evangelistic singing and preaching and he saw a typical house for the region.
"We learned of this family from the Biblical Baptist Church where the pastor is Rem Requizo. I met him five years ago when he was at the Marietta Bible College," he said. " I got to know him and he explained their needs and our church supports him financially."
Burch said Requizo is one of two church leaders they support. Burch said the idea of building a house came about two years ago. Three years ago they built a new church with the parsonage above the church and have supplied song books and a public address system.
"We have a vested interest in that church," he said. "The Lord laid it on my heart to help one of the families and we started raising money for the house then."
Burch said there are no plans for additional houses, but that does not mean there won't be in the future.
"If the need would arise we would probably do it," he said. "Right now we are waiting on the Lord's direction on what to do next."
When Burch goes there in March, the construction should be done or it may need a few finishing touches.
"Our purpose is to go and do a home dedication and fellowship service to dedicate it to them and to the Lord obviously," he said.
Burch said all the money has been raised here from local churches and individuals. He said $600 was raised from an appeal on Facebook.
"Once a month we take an offering for this, plus the church gives a set donation each month and we have done this for two years," he said. "But since then I've been asking other pastors and churches to partner with us."
Other churches in the Parkersburg area have contributed; they also had a contribution from a church in Akron.
"A church in Rockport recently gave us $1,000 for the house," he said. "All the money that has been donated from churches and individuals will go to build the house. If there is any extra money, we will buy them a refrigerator."
Burch said the house will be built for about $9,000 using local labor.
"The money will go to pay the workers," he said. "In the Philippines a skilled carpenter earns $9 a day and a unskilled laborer will make $6 to $7 a day. The man we are building the home for will oversee the work for $9 a day."