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TRAVER – After a missionary couple came to live in a home in London, organizers at Kingsburg Community Assistance Program said the plan to expand to Traver was already on their hearts and minds.

Both farm-working communities are dealing with high poverty rates, crime, drugs and even prostitution. KCAPS leaders hope having spiritually minded family in their midst will steer residents to the love of Christ instead.

A May 3 ground-breaking ceremony kicked off the building of the Traver missionary house which will be located at 36470 Church Drive. Local school children sang, a shofar was blown and prayers were said before the ceremonial turning of the earth. G.J. Gardner Homes may be doing the construction work, but KCAPS supporters say it’s God that’s building the home.

“Our hope is to show the unifying love of Christ to this beautiful community I was raised in,” KCAPS Executive Director Aida Rushing said. “The Lord gets all the glory. We so want to shine the light of Christ and that’s what we’re doing.”

The Traver missionary home will be modeled after the work Pastor Emilio Guzman has been doing in London for the past seven years. He moved there five years ago and will now assist Pastor Juan Diaz and his family as they locate to Traver.

“We’re helping the families, young adults, teens and children,” Guzman said. “Our heart’s desire is to do the same thing here. This home, we want it to be a place to come, find hope, feel safe and just know that they’re loved.”

The home on Church Drive should be completed in three to four months. Diaz and his wife, Laura,  and son, David, will relocate from Reedley and move in to continue the work they’ve already started in building relationships with the community.

Laura Diaz has been volunteering at the TCAPS thrift store in town and said she hopes that by being centrally located she can help more Traver residents have a closer relationship with the Lord.

“I want the kids to have another vision for life and encouragement that there’s more with help from the Lord.”

KCAPS is headquartered in Kingsburg and is known for its non-denominational efforts to offer food, utility assistance, counseling, prayer and referrals to drug rehabilitation and homeless shelters.

“It’s not about just meeting a physical need like food and those kinds of things. It’s the spiritual and emotional need that the families and the children need,” Rushing said. “It’s good to have them here since KCAPS is a safe place and we’re encouraging moms, dads and kids.”

She said it’s been heartwarming to have the support of the local school district and school officials and is eager to continue with practical assistance as well.

“Our locations are used for reading and tutoring. Laura and Juan started a kids club a year ago and we’re up to 40 kids.”

As part of the ceremony, Rob Jackson blew on a shofar to symbolize the expectation that God “will show up and do work here. It’s a proclamation of expectation and faith in what God’s going to do here in this city, in our own hearts and the land.”

The organization still needs to raise $15,000 to complete the build. In the meantime, the land will be filled in and leveled and work will be started to install the underground utilities. KCAPS Board President Dean Johnston said they’d return in a few weeks to write scriptures on the interior beams of the house.

“The beautiful families here support us because they know it’s safe,” Rushing said.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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