After 40 years experience as a building contractor, Todd Lewis was seeking direction from God on how to use his talents and abilities to help young people and his community. The concept transpired during a spontaneous trip.
“Several months ago, I was seeking direction from God and decided to go on a prayer retreat. I had some clothes in my truck and money in my pocket and ended up at the Outer Banks of N.C. I wasn’t sure when I was coming back, but I knew God was in the middle of this, and whatever transpired, He would get the glory,” explains Lewis.
“Standing before the ocean – one of the great miracles of the world – God revealed a classroom to me. I prayed for three or four days after that, but never quite understood what the classroom meant,” continued Lewis.
While on his seven-hour drive home, after praying for five of those hours, Lewis said that God revealed His plan. Lewis was to teach the talents that God gave him while working in the building industry for 40 years.
Upon his return to home, Lewis shared his idea with his pastor Steve Willis of Valley Harvest Ministries in Dublin. They agreed to hold the first classes there and created a post for Facebook about the classes.
There were three specific purposes for the classes:
– teach the trades (foundations of carpentry, electric, construction, etc.)
– assist students who took the classes to find employment if they wanted a job
– share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Members of Valley Harvest held devotions after each class and shared the Word of God with the students. Every student was prayed for after class.
Lewis said he had 118 shares on his Facebook post. “That tells me thousands of people saw this post. They just showed up and contacted me,” exclaimed Lewis.
“The tuition free class started with 14 students in the dead of winter. The holidays slowed us down a bit, but the group finished their 10-week course. It was a learning experience for all of us. First thing I told my class was, ‘call anytime about Jesus, but if about anything else don’t call me after 8:30 p.m.’”
Since Lewis had never taught a class like this before, he had to create everything he used to demonstrate the different trades. While teaching about footers and foundations, Lewis set up a physical demonstration, but when teaching about framing, he used documentation and pictures of the last house he built. A church member who was a plumber taught a class on plumbing, and a career HVAC person taught about heating and air-conditioning. To demonstrate electric service, Lewis built a wall and panel to show how to wire, install recepticals, etc.
“I have never taught in a classroom before, and I was pleased to see that I can. We had some real good volunteers in the field. We have a few people who participated and would love to continue to help. Also, we have people who have contacted me and offered me their services for upcoming classes in most of the mechanical trades,” stated Lewis.
Lewis is planning on teaching the next classes in the near future and will arrange for the students to take field trips to learn from tradespeople on-site rather than just in the classroom. Perspective students can begin signing up on his Facebook page: ToddLewis@facebook.com
As word of his program got out, Lewis was contacted by other organizations who want to participate. The City of Refuge has asked him to hold classes there and with hands-on training, the plan is to build some actual rooms at that facility.
Lewis has been contacted by Pulaski County High School and asked to sit on their advisory committee in the vocational building unit.
Lewis says, “My heart is burdened to help young people in the New River Valley. The trades are struggling for labor right now. These classes will help the community and people who want to learn the trades.”
While Lewis’ desire is to help young people learn a trade, he says his main focus is sharing the Word of God.
“I am doing what I am doing to benefit the Kingdom of God.”
And isn’t that what the Master Carpenter asks all of us to do?
By DANIELLE REID, The Patriot