The Rev. Jamie Sanks plans to spend two weeks living in a storage building.
The structure is 8 feet by 12 feet and rests on a platform atop a wooden tower approximately 20 feet above the ground.
From the building, Sanks will be able to gaze down upon the House of God on Flat Rock Road in Midland, the church of which he is founder and pastor.
Sanks is living in the building from Nov. 20 to Dec. 3 as part of a campaign he calls “The Big Event.”
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The goal is to collect toys for needy children and also food and cold-weather clothing for the homeless.
In the church parking lot sit two tractor-trailers and three storage pods Sanks hopes the community will fill.
The items collected will be divided among charitable organizations for distribution in Georgia and Alabama.
“Poverty is a big problem in this area and needs are not being met,” Sanks said. “The poor are near and dear to God. Love is not just talking about a problem. Love is action.”
Sanks quotes 1 John 3:17-18 to make his point: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
This is not the first time Sanks has held such an event.
In 2010, Sanks led a successful campaign.
“We got more than we expected,” he said. “People in the community were very generous. We want to help the poor but decided not to make this an annual event because we want people to be interested. We did not want to create big event burnout.”
Back then, he needed a long ladder to reach the building donated by Mark Cantrell and Action Buildings. Now, there are steps.
“Much better,” Sanks said.
It is not only the physical needs of people which will be met, but also spiritual.
Services will be held outside the church each evening with area pastors leading those gathered.
The Rev. Andy Merritt of Edgewood Baptist Church will lead the first service on Nov. 21.
Besides leading the church, Sanks works in support services at Aflac. The two weeks he spends in the building will be vacation time.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend it,” he said.
He said Chenita, his wife of 16 years — a Columbus native and teacher at Rigdon Road Elementary School — showed a lot of support for the idea.
The House of God is a multiracial/multiethnic nondenominational church with a small but enthusiastic congregation. Services are held in the former Bethel Baptist Church.
“The building was constructed by slaves in the 1800s,” said Sanks, a native of Fort Mitchell, Ala., and graduate of Columbus State University.
He has been in the ministry for about 18 years. He said he received a message from God after he injured his back at work and lost his job as a welder.
“The Lord said if I would work for him, he would work for me,” Sanks said.
He said there will be no running water and just enough electricity in the building for some light.
“I will have my Bible and some books,” Sanks said.
He will sleep on a cot and use a camper toilet.
“I will not do any cooking. Last time, people were very generous and brought me meals,” Sanks said.
Anyone who does not wish to bring an item by the church may still donate to the cause by going to www.houseofgodminsitries.com.
On Nov. 3 there will be a meal served on the church grounds at 3:30 p.m. before Sanks goes up to the building.
“This is not about Jamie. This is about helping others. Our goal is to empower the community to rise up and meet basic unmet needs, hunger and homelessness,” Sanks said. “We can give some children a merry Christmas. I know I get great joy out of seeing someone happy. I am confident the community will rise to the challenge.”