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Adults toil so teenagers can play

In the spirit of an old-fashioned barn raising, 20 men gathered last Saturday to "dry in" the Inverness Outpost of a youth ranch.

The Christian Adventure Ranch on Jasmine Lane is a ministry of Calvary Bible Church.

"It was very good. The Lord blessed," Calvary pastor David Cannon said. "We had the perfect weather for it. He held off the rain until about five minutes after we'd gotten the last guy down off the roof and had it dried in. Then it came down like Noah's flood."

The work began at 7 a.m. and continued for more than 12 hours.

"It was a very successful day," Cannon said. "We got all the roof sheathing on and dried in, and materials up there to finish it up. We did some closing in with the siding. So it was a lot of work."

Cannon said there was a mix of skilled and unskilled labor.

"I got everybody together and I explained what we were trying to accomplish and what materials we had. I just told the guys I didn't know what their skill levels were and what they felt comfortable with. So they had to make a decision about whether they could go on a roof or not. Everybody just seemed to group off into the things that they could do and they just worked like a great team. It was a wonderful spirit about the thing."

The men who worked on the building came from three Inverness churches _ Calvary Bible Church, Citrus Missionary Baptist Church and First Christian Church _ and First Baptist Church of Land O'Lakes. Two men who helped were not affiliated with any church.

Ed Rose, 50, who owns Rose Drywall, came to help from the Land O'Lakes church. He said he feels that helping with projects like the youth ranch is a ministry for him.

"I did this because of John 3:16," Rose said. "It says "for God so loved the world' _ and that doesn't just mean the state of Florida. He told us to go spread the gospel everywhere, so I've been on every continent in the world so far doing everything from youth buildings to churches to hospitals to girls dorms to radio stations. Drywall is my expertise, but when I go, I just say, "Yes, sir' and I do what they tell me."

Paul Kangas, 71, moved here from Pasco County in March. He has been attending Calvary Bible Church.

"I had volunteered to cut the grass, so I just said when I was through cutting the grass, I'd just help right here," Kangas said. "I've been handling materials, just a "gofer.' I think it's going to be good for the youth. They'll benefit not only from the recreation program but also the spiritual program that will come with it."

Mario Aguilera, 35, has been a member of Calvary Baptist for eight years.

"This was our dream to have this," he said. "We've had this tiny building and when you go to other places where you see better facilities where you can do more things with the teenagers, you kind of dream of this projector and this space where we can play and do games, or we can do this drama, or whatever it may be. Most people trust in Christ as their savior when they're young, so we'd like to reach out for the young."

Aguilera said that a lot of young families live near the youth ranch.

"We've done surveys around this whole block and people say it's great that we're doing work with the youth. They may not all be churchgoing families, but they want their kids to go to church."

Lisa Cannon, who with other church women prepared a feast for the workmen, said the day encouraged her husband.

"I'm excited because this is such a blessing on David. It's a relief for him to get so much accomplished so quickly."

Mrs. Cannon said the original gift that was given for the ranch will take the building to the drywall stage.

Her husband said it may take another $20,000 to finish the building.

The ranch is across the street from the church. There are two buildings on the site. The older building has been used for teen meetings and activities. When the larger building _ 60 by 32 feet _ is completed, it will be used for the meetings as well as activities and media presentations. The smaller building will then be used for games.

"The main meeting room is a good-sized room," Cannon said in an interview in January. "It's got a high ceiling so we can do a lot of activities in there. We're planning on setting up a media type room also with a projector that will take videos and DVDs and computer-generated images and just about fill a 30- by 17-foot wall, so it will almost be like a theater. We also want to use it in our music program when the kids are singing."

The two Cracker-style buildings will be connected with a porch and a breezeway.

"It will be big enough to put in a grill and picnic tables to have cookouts," Cannon said. "It will be a great place to sit and for the kids to congregate and do what they do and talk."

There will be lots of fun at the ranch. Teens will be able to play outside sports like basketball and volleyball and inside games like pool, Ping-Pong and air hockey. There is a computer for homework help or games. There are plans for canoe trips, cookouts and concerts.

It's not just a place to "babysit our teenagers," though, Cannon said. "We'll lead them to Christ and teach them that they're responsible to reach their peers with the gospel of Christ. Then we'll provide them with a place where they can bring them to hear the gospel and with a means of discipleship. So it sounds just like what Christians are always supposed to be doing. But we're trying to make it a place where they can have fun and make it exciting for them."

The outreach is for all teens of junior and senior high age. Cannon said he hopes to have 50 to 100 attend on meeting nights.

To learn more

To make a donation to the Christian Adventure Ranch or for more information on the ministry, call pastor David Cannon at 344-8331. To receive the church newsletter and monitor the progress of the ranch, e-mail