Ministry surprises Alabaster woman with a new house

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – A few minutes after entering her new home off Old Highway 31 for the first time on Oct. 7, Ava Woods was already making plans to express her gratitude to the people who made the house a reality.

“I’m going to cook. If I can’t do anything else, I sure can cook,” Woods said with a laugh as about 12 volunteers helped to welcome her to a house much more suited for entertaining guests than the structure she used to live in. “I’m going to cook a big dinner and you’re all invited.”

More than a year ago, Woods heard about the good deeds several local churches were completing in Alabaster through the Jesus Works ministry, which was formerly known as the Highway 11 ministry.

Woods, who will turn 77 on Oct. 10, had been living in a mobile home built in the late 1950s since about 2004, and was having many issues with the old unit. Her bathtub did not function properly, requiring her to heat water on the stove when she wanted to bathe, her floors were beginning to become unstable and several windows were in need of repair.

“The Lord just told me to wait. I did what he said, and I filled out an application (for the Jesus Works ministry),” said Woods, who works as a church nurse at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Alabaster. “Nobody knew that I didn’t really have a good place to live, but it didn’t stop me from serving God.”

The Jesus Works ministry is headquartered at Alabaster First United Methodist Church and includes about a dozen church congregations in the area The churches work to identify and address needs in the community, and allow those in need to apply to the program for assistance.

Over the past few years, the ministry has helped to build a new home for a cancer patient, has completed much-needed renovations at dilapidated homes and has spread the gospel through its good works.

When Woods applied, she originally just asked for help fixing her floors, repairing some holes in the walls and replacing a few windows.

“When we came and looked at the old house, we came to the conclusion that I couldn’t be fixed,” said volunteer Werner Beiersdoerfer, who helped to organize the project.

From there, Beiersdoerfer contacted Southern Energy Homes, which knew of a double-wide manufactured home fitting the project’s need perfectly.

The home was constructed through a partnership with Southern Energy Homes and the Department of Energy, and was designed as an energy efficient model home. During two years of testing, the highest monthly power bill for the home was $185.

The company agreed to donate the home to the project, and a man named R.D. Smith transported it from Russellville to Pelham and then to Alabaster after Woods’ former home was demolished.

The home arrived on Woods’ property on Oct. 4, Jesus Works volunteers constructed a deck for the home in a matter of days and the home will be move-in ready on Oct. 8.

Before Woods got her first look inside the house on Oct. 7, Jesus Works volunteers held a brief prayer service dedicating the house led by Beiersdoerfer, City Councilwoman and project volunteer Sophie Martin and Alabaster FUMC Pastor Sherrry Harris.

“This is better than the best. I am so excited,” Woods said. “All the people here today are angels that have blessed me. I’ve got so many angels that I can fly on their backs.”