Many look to spend their vacations with their toes in the sand, soaking up some rays at the beach. Others may prefer the seclusion offered by a stay in a mountain cabin. Still some may enjoy the comforts of home and choose to “staycation” during their time off.
David Taylor does not fit into any of these categories.
Taylor, a machinist in the Arnold Engineering Development Complex Model and Machine Shop at Arnold Air Force Base, has no desire to take it easy during his time away from work. Instead, he looks to get his hands dirty for a good cause.
Taylor is part of a local group that uses their vacation time to help those in need with home renovations and other projects they may otherwise not be able to afford. While bringing physical and structural improvements to these residences is important, for Taylor and those working alongside him these enterprises provide the opportunity to do something they feel is even greater – to witness to those they are helping.
“It’s about spreading the word of God. It’s about telling people about Jesus,” Taylor said. “It’s also what we’re supposed to do. If I had one wish, I wish we’d get back to helping each other instead of it being about a dollar here and a dollar there. If a friend needs help, you need to go help them. It doesn’t matter if they’re in Estill Springs or if they’re in Tullahoma or if they’re in Hyattville, Wyoming.”
The group, which also includes members of Taylor’s family, as well as AEDC team members Andy Escue, Robert Reed and their families, among other folks, does most of its work out West, particularly in Wyoming. They work closely with Wyoming-based pastor James Scott, known as the “Cowboy Preacher,” who gathers information on those in need of help and arranges the projects.
Taylor, who has worked at Arnold for more than 26 years and has been helping Scott for around the past eight years, said he and the other locals who make regular journeys to Wyoming became involved with Scott through their church, Rutledge Falls Baptist Church in Tullahoma, which sponsored Scott at the beginning of his ministry career.
The types of work completed by the group include reroofing, sheet rock hanging, floor repair, fencing installation and even cattle branding for ranchers needing a helping hand. These efforts have taken Taylor and the others across Wyoming. Towns in the Cowboy State in which they’ve completed projects include Greybull, Worland, Hyattville and Cody.
“We’re just going out there to help others and do whatever we can do,” Taylor said. “But, once again, the main thing is just to have the opportunity to share the Word with them a little.”
Taylor added the use of their vacation time to accomplish this is of no concern to him and the others who make the trips, referring to each opportunity to help as a “blessing.”
To illustrate this, Taylor recalled a recent visit to Wyoming during which he and others worked to repair a leaky roof for a widowed mother of five. The roof re-decking was not easy, as the project involved the removal of multiple layers of shingles and a layer of metal underneath them.
“I wanted to walk away from that one because it was the hardest roof I had ever done in my life, but when I came off that roof and all them were sitting there crying and happy, it made it all worthwhile,” Taylor said.
The group’s efforts, which are funded mostly through donations but occasionally covered by the members themselves, are not focused solely on home renovations and working with ranchers. Several years ago, they established a soccer camp in Wyoming to provide outreach to youths there. They have also worked with Compass Ministry to set up booths at the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi, to provide testimony to interested attendees. Last year, the group did the same at a Professional Bull Riders event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Taylor said. “The soccer camp is to get the kids there. Roofing a house is to get the opportunity.”
There are several things the group would like to accomplish to help those in the areas surrounding Arnold AFB. Among these is the establishment of a ministry for military veterans.
“If a veteran needs a roof and he’s down on hard times and he can’t do it, we’ll go roof the house and it won’t cost the veteran anything,” Taylor said.
Taylor reiterated that such work is seldom easy, but he said the joy it brings to those receiving the help makes it all worth it.
“We’ve all got talent, and God has blessed me with the ability and has put me in position with the people that allow me to do some of this stuff,” he said.
“I just thank the good Lord up above for giving us the opportunity.”