Handyman ministry helps church spring into action

David Robison, a member of Oak View Baptist Church in Irving and volunteer with the church's OV4U handyman, assists a church member by trimming their tree branches. (Courtesy Photo)


IRVING—To help meet needs within their own congregation, Barry Newman and Doug French of Oak View Baptist Church in Irving started a handyman ministry—Oak View for You, better known as OV4U—to help assist fellow members with basic home repairs and maintenance.

The ministry has helped members with 150 projects—everything from changing lightbulbs to trimming trees and shrubs, from moving cabinet shelves to adjusting sprinklers for winter, and from hanging bird feeders to setting up a new computer.

For senior adults and widows, the blessing of having their church family being just a phone call away provides a huge relief.

“Barry and Debbie Newman are life-long friends who we’ve known since high school,” French said.  “One evening in early 2022, we were discussing Oak View, where we’ve all been members for decades, and how we could address some of the needs we hear about around the church.

“It was actually our wives, Marty and Debbie, that suggested that their two able-bodied ‘Mr. Fix-It husbands’ should look into doing handyman jobs for widows or others in need.”

French was a deacon at Oak View Baptist Church from 1989 to 2007, when his career took him from Irving to Charleston, S.C.  When he retired in 2020, he and his wife returned to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and rejoined Oak View.

“I recalled the years prior, serving the church and the widows of our congregation. That dinner conversation with Barry and our wives struck a chord with both of us,” he said.

“We acknowledged that there are many needs out there, but many are not widows or widowers. There are single parents, homebound elderly couples, folks who don’t have the resources to call a professional every time they have a problem in their home or apartment. OV4U became that outlet for all of us to serve in the way our Lord would have us serve.

“The fact is that there are several men in our membership who have been doing these type of things for years, but what we learned is that a lot of our members don’t know who to call when they have a problem. Barry and I got excited about the possibilities and took the idea. What we conceived is a ministry that simplifies the process.”

Sign up for our weekly edition and get all our headlines in your inbox on Thursdays

‘A nice mix of talents and capabilities’

Since the repair ministry has been created, French noted that when a member has a need, they are encouraged to call the church office and explain about the repair work being requested and provide their contact information.

That’s when OV4U springs into action.

“That information is sent along to me as their primary contact, and we take it from there,” French said.  “The church doesn’t need to do anything or track progress to the request. We handle it all.”

French and Newman launched OV4U in March 2022 after promoting the idea among members of the church’s men’s group and life group classes.

“We were able to recruit about a dozen or so who have certain skills that can be called upon when needed,” French said. “Many of us are retired and have the time to invest, but many still work. It’s a nice mix of talents and capabilities.”

The group created T-shirts with their OV4U logo on it to help promote the ministry within their congregation.

“We are thrilled that the ministry has become so successful, but we are mostly inspired by all those who have benefitted from it,” French said. “It warms our hearts to hear and see the appreciation when we finish up a job.

“Of course, word of mouth takes over from there.  Not many Sunday mornings go by without someone approaching us to come take a look at something that needs to be fixed or replaced.  The church staff has been very supportive, and they help us promote the ministry by showing our logo periodically during worship announcements.”

“We tell everyone we don’t want them getting up on ladders. And some repairs are a little more involved or require specific tools and skills,” said Doug French of OV4U. (Courtesy Photo)

French noted the diversity of jobs OV4U volunteers perform.

“Some are quick and easy like changing out light bulbs. We tell everyone we don’t want them getting up on ladders. And some repairs are a little more involved or require specific tools and skills,” he said.

“Since we’re just a bunch of old guys who help where we can, we don’t take on jobs that are too complex. We never intend to take the place of certified or bonded professional contractors. If we encounter a job request that is beyond our capabilities, we won’t take on that liability. We will politely refer them to someone who can do the work for them. Most of the jobs only require a few hours to complete.”

French noted the volunteers involved in the handyman ministry realize the great blessing and benefit of helping those within their congregation and refuse to accept any financial compensation for their work.

“We do this because it’s our ministry to others as God has called us to do,” French said.

Lessons learned

As this ministry desires to represent and reflect the church in action, French offers insight and advice for others considering similar ministries.

“Listen to your congregation,” French said. “Hear the needs that arise from time to time from those who truly need assistance. Identify those around the church who are willing and able to give of their time to perform simple tasks.

“Set up a process that is simple and effective to record and track each job in a timely manner. Make the commitment to finish the job and then stand by that commitment. Refuse any compensation for your time because it will likely be offered.  This is God’s work, and he gives us the resources to help.”

Volunteers with OV4U are just glad to help people in need, no matter how simple the task.

“It feels good to know that we are doing God’s work, even if it’s just in the form of hanging a picture for someone or replacing a ceiling fan,” French said.

“We have many stories of members who have spoken of their appreciation for the OV4U ministry, too numerous to really go through.  They all inspire us to keep doing what we’re doing.

“We’ve completed many jobs with a brief prayer time with the person we just helped. Sometimes, there are tears of thanks as well. Besides saving them some money, they feel loved and cared for, and that’s huge.”

We seek to connect God’s story and God’s people around the world. To learn more about God’s story, click here.

Send comments and feedback to Eric Black, our editor. For comments to be published, please specify “letter to the editor.” Maximum length for publication is 300 words.

More from Baptist Standard