Church group gives new roof to man living in Paradise

David Burke


Life in Paradise isn’t always perfect.

But thanks to a service project by young adults in the Russell County, Kansas, town’s United Methodist Church, it got better for one of their neighbors.

Just down the hill from the church in the town of about 50 people is the house of a man on disability after cancer struck his left jaw and tonsils. He had been in need of a new roof on his house for about two years, especially noticeable when rain would fall from his light fixtures.

Members of a young adult study group at Paradise UMC help reroof a neighbor's house. Contributed photos

A small group of young adults at the church, which meets monthly for fellowship and Bible study, decided to do a service project, and all agreed that giving their neighbor a new roof was the best choice.

However, “none of us had any roofing experience,” said Tanner Lyle, one of the dozen under-40s who worried on the project, “so we rounded up a couple of people who did.”

The group decided on an $1,800 estimate, out of the $5,000 it had raised for an outreach fund.

It took longer than the last weekend in September that the group had planned, finishing the work on Oct. 1. Part of the delay was about three hours pulling unexpected nails from the north side of the house.

“It seemed like there were 100,000 nails in there,” Lyle said.

The first-time roofers felt exhausted, but gratified that they had helped a neighbor.

“When you serve others, you’re the one that ultimately gets the benefit,” said Lyle, who splits his work time between farming and working for the telephone company. “He was very grateful and appreciative. Everybody when we got done really felt like we accomplished something.”

Lyle’s wife, Heather, said she felt like the project was blessed because the roofing needed warm weather for the shingles to seal, and two days following the completion had highs of 85 degrees.

“I feel like God definitely wanted us to do it,” she said. “We feel like He definitely blessed the effort.”

Removal of the shingles exposed worse damage than the group anticipated.

Justin Schultze, one of the roofers-for-a-weekend, enjoyed the experience.

“It was fun to work with our friends and help somebody out,” he said.

His wife, Kathleen, said they enjoyed the challenge.

“I think everyone knew that in order to complete the project you had to step out of your comfort zone,” she said. “Everyone was willing to take on roles they’d never done before.”

The young couples are responsible for an influx of youth in the church, the only house of worship in the community. In a recent Sunday, 16 of the 38 who attended worship were children who listened to the Rev. Stacy Ellsworth’s “Young Disciples Time.”

Ellsworth said it was a “blessing” to be serving a church that had a sizeable amount devoted to outreach and mission.

“That makes a strong statement to the dedication of them as neighbors, and their day-to-day commitment to each other in Christ,” said Ellsworth, in his second year of serving the Paradise-Waldo churches.

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