It was the winter of 1996 in the south-western corner of Michigan. As an 18 year old college sophomore, I needed to find work that paid well enough to help me offset my college expenses, but was flexible enough to work around my class schedule. I had heard that a man in my church owned a construction related business and might be hiring, so one Sunday I approached him and explained my predicament.
“It’s hard work,” he says with an eyebrow raised and a sparkle in his eye. His eyebrow is asking me if I really understand what is involved in this type of work while the sparkle in his eye is daring me to find out.
“I like hard work.”
I once helped my dad replace the roof of our house and I worked for a painter during high school summers, so I was pretty sure I knew what hard work was.
“Okay, here is the address where I’d like you to meet me on Monday after class…and bring a hammer,” he says as he hands me a church bulletin with an address scribbled on it.
Monday afternoon I raced home from class, changed, and headed out to the jobsite. I was still pretty new to the area so prior to the invention of GPS it took some wandering before I finally found where Jim was waiting for me, keeping warm in his truck. With the truck still running, he came and greeted me with a smile. I shook his hand while looking around wondering where the “jobsite” was. All I could see was a hole in the ground.
Jim walked me past his flatbed trailer and over to the edge of a sprawling eight foot deep hole where a series of concrete walls outlined the shape of what would soon become a new house. Lining the walls inside and out lay numerous tall wooden panels with iron frames.
“See all those? Those are concrete forms,” he says. “I need all of those forms lifted out of the hole and stacked neatly on my trailer so I can move them to the next job. Oh! And did you bring a hammer?”
“Yes, I sure did,” I tell him, quite proud of myself for remembering.
“Good! Those metal pieces sticking out of the concrete are the ties we use to hold the forms in place until the concrete sets. We can’t leave them there though, so just hit them with your hammer and they’ll break right off. Can you handle all of that?”
“I think so.”
My confidence is only a little shaken. After all, how hard could it be?
“Excellent. I’m going to another job today, so you can just head home when you’re done. Call me tonight and we can talk about the rest of the week.”
Jim gets in his truck and pulls away. As I stand here all alone I realize for the first time just how cold it is today. I make my way across the frozen and uneven ground and then slide down one of the soft earth sides and into the hole. It’s surprising to me that the ground above is hard and cold, but the ground below is still warm enough to fight off the frost. I grab hold of my first form and lift…..
As darkness settles I have only made what appears to be a small dent in the number of forms lying in and around what now feels like the Grand Canyon. My hammer (actually it’s my dad’s hammer) is now broken. Several errant swings against the concrete ties have shattered the fiberglass shaft. My fingertips I cannot feel, but every other muscle and joint in my body is screaming to get my attention. With no daylight left, I head home in defeat.
To my surprise, Jim seems unconcerned when I talk to him that night. He says to come back tomorrow and he will have his foreman meet me there to give me a hand. Perhaps too proud to admit defeat, I agree.
I knew this foreman. We were already friends and we were close in age and build (at least from my perspective). But when we met at the jobsite that day I saw that there was much I did not know about him. He was unbelievably strong. He lifted the forms out of the hole like they were nothing while I struggled with each one. Yet it was clear that he was not trying to prove anything or show me up, he was just working hard and working smart. He took the time to show me better techniques that made the job so much more manageable. He showed me the type of hammer I would need – one with a forged metal handle that could withstand the type of work being done – and loaned me his until I could afford to get my own. What I thought would sure be my last day turned out to be just the second of many more to come.
I later got to work with the same foreman to lay out foundations. What a truly fascinating process. He would study the blueprints while making notes and calculations on his notepad. Then I would hold one end of a very long tape while he used triangular measurements to precisely determine the location of all of the corners of the building. We would then mark all of the footings so that the walls could be properly placed. The owner of the company was putting tremendous trust in his foreman. Any mistakes in these critical processes could cost the company thousands of dollars, maybe even put them out of business. But that didn’t stop him. His foreman was trustworthy. His foreman had all of the right qualities to lay a straight foundation upon which a solid house could be built.
His foreman was Scott Jones.
What I learned more than 17 years ago was that I could trust the lines that Scott Jones draws. I saw him lay incredibly sound foundations then, and now I have the amazing privilege of watching he and Stephanie work as a team to do the same thing here today.
Four years ago Amy and I and our four children left our home in Michigan to move here to help our dear friends as they founded this church. I remember telling Scott and Stephanie how God had instructed us to join them here in order to help in any way we could. Do you know what they told us?
“It’s gonna be hard work.”
As much as I thought I understood what that meant, it was only in doing that we could grasp what was required. And it was only through stepping out of our comfort and leaving familiarity behind that we could acquire the great reward that we have found in being a part of New Day SC. So thank you New Day. Thank you to all of the close friends, no, the brothers and sisters we have found here. You have made every bit of labor more than worth the cost. And whether you have been a part of New Day for years, are new to the church, or are just considering joining us, you can rest firmly in the confidence that our leaders are truly skilled and they are laying a foundation for this church that is strong and true; one that will last for generations; one that is and will be ever green.
In 2009, David and Amy Boersma and their four children relocated to Summerville, SC to join in the founding leadership team of New Day. David and Amy currently oversee the prayer/counseling ministry at New Day. In addition they are members of the Board of Directors and serve as part of the worship ministry.