"We're not really intentionally looking to shine any light on what we're doing here," Torrence said, "but we're hoping that whatever story [is shared about our effort] will give people an opportunity to see that there are people with needs in Bartow County and there are people that are willing to help out when they recognize a need. ... [I] started doing outreach-type ministry work several years ago when I was working with Hands and Feet Ministries out of Adairsville.
"We did several mission trips to Mexico. That just really helped me to see what a difference that I personally could make with the trade and the tools and the gifts that God has given me. So whatever anybody has in the way of their gifting surely can be used to benefit somebody else and at the same time obviously shining a light on the grand purpose, which is Jesus hasn't forgotten about these people."
On Oct. 15, about 30 people, representing churches of varying sizes and denominations, joined together through OneJesus to start on the Cartersville home's dramatic rehabilitation. Along with Torrence, the project also is guided by contractor Tim Warren.
"When I first drove up I thought the house was abandoned," Torrence said. "Then I knocked on the side door and eventually someone came to the door. When I got an opportunity to walk through, I was kind of amazed that anybody could be really living in this place. The room addition in the front of the building was two bedrooms from what I remember but the floors had fallen through. It didn't appear to have been used in [many years]. The roof was holey and leaking through and the ceilings were pulled down and the floors were buckled up. The worst of it, of course, was on the roof where they had used carpeting to the best of their ability to stop the leaks, which obviously [did not] stop [the] leaks. That just traps the moisture and needless to say there was a good bit of mold.
"So we got rid of all that. At the same time, as desperate a situation it seemed like they were in, they really were without resources to do anything about it. ... On Saturday, we did take the room addition off and we repaired the roof and put new shingles on it and took off the old siding on the addition in hopes to reuse what was removed to reinstall it to the new front of the building. We added a few windows and a new door and did some painting inside and repaired some floors inside. There is a lot of work here. We're going to give it our best shot to get it livable. They are already tickled pink at what's been done."
An independent examiner, Livingston-Ward initially discovered the homeowner's need when she visited the home, conducting a life insurance exam nearly two months ago. Livingston-Ward -- a member of Graceland Church -- felt a strong connection with her after seeing the structure's deteriorating condition and learning about the homeowner's charitable spirit toward other single mothers.
"When I first saw [the home], my heart went out to her," Livingston-Ward said. "I saw there was water leaking in the house. There was no glass in the widows. ... The Lord was just laying on my heart to do something for this woman and I just kept saying, 'What do you want me to do? What is it you really want me to do?' And I sat there and I actually prayed with her and invited her to the group. ... I said, 'You're my sister in Christ' and tears came down her face. She said, 'I don't drive.' I said, 'I'll come pick you up.'"
During the homeowner's first OneJesus gathering at Graceland Church, the group decided to take on the rehabilitation project as its first community service offering. The singles ministry raised $4,200 to purchase supplies and reached out to the community for donations.
"The most rewarding part about it is watching people come together and working as a team for other people, for their brothers and sisters. It's giving her a life back and her daughter. We've done the best that we can with the money we have," Livingston-Ward said, adding one of the most touching moments was when the woman's daughter said, "This is finally feeling like home."
Currently meeting at Graceland Church -- 17 Cedar Creek Road in Cartersville -- on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., the group draws about 30 people weekly from about 12 area churches, including NorthPointe, The Church at Liberty Square, Friendship Baptist, Christian Fellowship and West Ridge. Attendees, whom range in age from late 20s to 60s, also vary in professions and life experience, with some never having married to those who are widowed or divorced.
"The purpose [of OneJesus] is gathering in unity, giving a new vision and hope for singles again and bringing the Lord into everyone's life," Livingston-Ward said. "It's been really a neat experience.
"Every Tuesday night we eat together. We have a teaching and we do fellowship and prayer," she said, adding their next meeting on Oct. 25 will feature Lika Roman, Miss Ukraine 2007, who will share her testimony and talk about her mission work.
The group, which started with just a handful of individuals at Torrence's residence, has grown in its membership and offerings in the past nine months.
"Keshia really felt the calling to go out to visit other churches and tell them what our group was about and that's really when it took off," said Torrence, a member of Graceland Church, referring to how the ministry has evolved. "We started the singles group because it's really important to have a safe environment for people to build relationships and build friendships.
"There's plenty of places out there that you can meet people but we're looking for a place that you don't feel the normal threat that you would going like barhopping like a lot of people do. Ultimately if I've done anything to contribute to this, I'd be satisfied that there have been a lot of relationships built, strong friendships. Keshia and Joseph [Harris] actually are to be married in November and those two met at the singles ministry. So it's an awesome thing."
For more information about OneJesus or volunteering in its community outreach project, contact Livingston-Ward, 678-467-8314, or Harris, 770-546-9196. The Cartersville home's first phase of improvements tentatively will conclude with volunteer work on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.