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story.lead_photo.caption Janelle Jessen/Herald-Leader In addition to woodworking, staff at the Institute for Biblical Community Development raise chickens, goats and a large garden so they can teach students about farming.

For the Institute for Biblical Community Development (IBCD) Mission, woodworking is about much more than bringing the beauty of nature into customers' homes.

The Siloam Springs-based mission trains foreign missionaries and college and high school students about sustainable building and energy, water resources, construction, basic health care, woodworking, gardening and animal husbandry at their 86-acre property in Watts, Okla. The goal is for the IBCD students to share the knowledge they learn with people in impoverished communities around the world, according to founder and director Young Kim.

The mission sells the modern woodworking products they make at C by M Creative in downtown Siloam Springs. The business, owned by Young Kim's daughter Mary Kim, also includes Mary's photography studio and creative space available to other artists.


IBCD Mission started as a spin-off of an engineering and community development class that Young taught at John Brown University. The retired professor wanted to not only to teach college students but also to reach out to people in impoverished areas of the world.

"I traveled quite extensively and met people who are working in impoverished areas -- most of the time in rural areas," Young said. "The class that I was teaching was very relevant to help them."

The retired engineering professor started doing a lot of on-site consulting, but realized that what he could do himself overseas was limited. To increase the impact, he built the IBCD Mission community where he could teach along with staff members who could share their experience in other areas.

Currently, the mission hosts missionaries, interns and college students, as well as a summer camp for Korean middle and high school students. Some students stay for six-week sessions, while others stay for an entire semester or intern for several years.

Missionary students come from all over the world, including at least a dozen African countries, as well as southeast Asia and India. Many of the other students come from Korea or JBU.

"We teach how to develop a healthy community in a God oriented society, following the teachings of the Bible" Young said. "Survival is a big struggle and issue, so we not only teach them the community spirit aspect, we teach them hands-on practical skills for survival and sustainability."

Sustainable Harvest

Many people in developing countries are already harvesting wood for firewood, Young said. If they can learn woodworking, they can improve their economic situation by using the wood for construction or create objects for themselves or to sell, he explained.

From harvesting trees to finished product, every step of the woodworking process is done at IBCD Mission.

It has been two years since the mission has had to harvest any trees from their 86-acre property for their woodwork, thanks to a bounty of wood washed down the Illinois river onto the property by historic floods.

Even when the floods don't wash wood down the river onto the mission's property, the organization practices and teaches sustainable harvesting methods, Young said.

Once the trees are collected, they are sawed into boards by a sawmill that was donated to the organization. The rough-cut boards are then put into a solar kiln to dry.

The solar-powered kiln will dry up to 100 square board feet of wood at a time. In the summer, temperatures inside can reach up to 130 degrees. In the winter, the kiln floor is heated using the warmth from a wood boiler fueled by scrap wood. It takes six to eight weeks for the wood's cellular moisture to be reduced to 68 percent so that it is ready to be removed from the kiln and put into storage.

"We basically make use of all the resources available in God's creation, what God provides us, (for example) sunlight for heating the kiln," he said.

Hardwood such as cherry, pecan, walnut, ash, hickory and oak are used for creating home furnishings or decorations. Other wood, such as pine and sycamore, are used for construction.

In the wood shop, students learn to plane and sand the rough-hewn wood until it is silky smooth, then shape it into everything from furniture to kitchen utensils.

In modern society, many people don't get outdoors much, but Young is hopeful the designs that IBCM creates will bring nature into their living rooms and allow them to experience God's creation.

Young pointed to the beautiful wood grain revealed by the process.

"We call these God's fingerprints, you know," he said. "So there is a beautiful (fingerprint of God) and we want to reveal it and introduce it to society."

Mary designs and art-directs the woodwork IBCD Mission creates with the goal of creating modern pieces that are neither ornate or old-fashioned.

Nothing in the process goes to waste. Even tiny pieces of wood are milled into ballpoint pens, and the wood shavings are collected and used for bedding for the chickens, then composted and used to fertilize the garden.

"We try to be eco-friendly as much as we can, and fully recycle whatever God gives to us and make good use of it," Young said. "Our moral is bringing that creation of beauty into the living room."

Jesus was a workin' man

A sign that states "Jesus was a workin' man," hangs over he IBCD Mission barn. A down-to-earth approach and work ethic are important to Young.

Young said his friend Travis Chaney, a member of Sons of Otis Malone, had a small "Jesus was a workin' man," sign in his garage so Young made a large sign to hang on the barn door at the mission.

"Traditionally, when you say Christian ministry, (you think of) a guy with a white collar and doesn't touch dirt," Young said. "There is a huge problem of dichotomy, if you look at the actual reality of developing countries, you need a lot of physical work to bring the kingdom together. (There is) this kind of white collar and blue collar segregation and looking down at blue collar and so on, but Jesus was blue collar, so we don't put down God-given intelligence either, but it has to be all level ground."

"I'm sweaty and hot and dirty all the time, and I try to emphasize that and try to not look at that as a secondary choice. God created the physical world and a way to enjoy it and appreciate it."

Everyone at the mission community does a lot of physical work and practices positive work ethic, whether its working in the garden pulling weeds or working with wood.

"Ministers from overseas come. ... We shove them into chicken coops, they go to the garden, pull the weeds out, clean the floors, (it's) all God's created world," Young said.

IBCD Mission student Grace Kim, no relation, said she has learned the value of hard work and focusing on spiritual matters at the mission.

Grace moved to the U.S. when she was in 10th grade to study at the community. She attended Fayetteville Christian School while also training at the mission. Last year, she took a gap year between high school and college and plans to start studying at JBU in the fall.

"I learned a lot of things about recycling, farming, woodworking. ... all of them were for learning to have relationships with the land and learning stewardship -- taking care of God's creation," she said.

However, the most important thing Grace said she has learned is to make God her first priority and live out her faith.

For more information about IBCD Mission, visit To view or purchase the mission's woodworking designs, visit C by M Creative, located at 200 S. Broadway St., in downtown Siloam Springs.

General News on 06/27/2018

Print Headline: 'Jesus was a workin man'

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