Building a lesson in faith

Published 10:48 pm Monday, December 21, 2009

There were plenty of boards, plenty of nails, descriptive instructions and plenty of smiles as a number of young men spent Saturday morning building mangers for their home’s Christmas decorations.

As part of the Noble Warrior program, started by a Suffolk native, these young men, along with their fathers, grandfathers, family friends and neighbors, put together the mangers. The mangers will spend their time near their families’ Christmas trees this year.

“It’s just a good opportunity for these boys to come spend time with their fathers,” said Thomas Young, who helped organized the event this year at Hillcrest Baptist Church. “It’s important for these boys to have times with their fathers and important for their mothers to have time to themselves, as well.”

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Young’s son, Mike, began the program a number of years ago and has seen it grow to include a number of churches from Suffolk to Roanoke to Richmond.

As of last year, 13 separate locations across the country had started the program, constructing more than 300 mangers.

But this year, the weather put a damper on things as a December nor’easter dumped snow and rain across Virginia, cutting attendance. But, the weather did little to dampen the enthusiasm.

“We had hoped to have about 30 boys here today, but those that are here are having a great time,” Young said. “This is a great time for these men to bond with their sons.”

Although the program is designed for men and their sons, there were two young men who did not have their Dads on hand.

Colton and Cody Byars spent the morning with church member and local contractor Cliff Schompert. The boys’ father, Phillip, serves in the U.S. Navy and is stationed overseas.

“These two young boys have had a great time today. It was so nice to see them here today,” Young said.

Young said the pre-measured and cut materials were purchased at Lowes in Suffolk, which helped the program by selling the items at a much-reduced price.

While constructing the mangers for use this Christmas, the boys also learned their hard work could pay off at Easter, as well.

“Each of these mangers can be taken apart and put back together in a different order to construct a standing cross for Easter,” Young said. “We wanted to make sure the time these boys spent with their fathers was an opportunity to learn more about their faith, as well.”

For more information on the Manger Build or Noble Warriors ministries, visit or