When you see it now you would never believe just how bad it was. In 1993 an abandoned elementary school house that is on the National Historical Registry was put up for auction. After much prayer and with no money a bid of $20,525 was placed and the building. Way of the Cross got the building and was told that they would need to pay for the building. After six months Ben still didn’t have the money. Ben went to the owners and they told him it would be another three months before they would be ready to close. During this time the Lord started to send the money and it came in small amounts from all over. Ben went back at the end of nine months and the owner said he still didn’t have the paper work started and asked Ben if he was ready for him to do the paper work. Ben never told the owner he didn’t have the money but the Lord took care of the ministry as He has continued to do since the beginning.
Volunteers came and brought materials and money to completely remodel the school. The old school was transformed into four dorms, conference room, chapel, kitchen, laundry facilities and two offices. The training center is at the heart of the ministry and where you will always find a bee hive of activity. Until 1999 it housed our short term missionaries and staff that required housing. When the motel was purchased in 1999 it became staff housing. You never know when you wake up who will have showed up during the night needing a place to rest. Missionaries going and coming know they always have a place to stay and food to eat at WOTC. The training center has served thousands of people since it was purchased and continues to be a beehive of activity everyday of the year.
A home was constructed for the Butler family and later a second home was built for staff housing. A storage building has been added to the south side of the property along with hookups for RV’s and travel trailers.
In 2002 we completely went through the center painting and fixing up. We remodeled the kitchen adding a new convection oven and bigger pots for bigger groups. We believe the best is yet to come as the Lord continues to sends us more company in the years to come. Along the way air conditioning was added to the dorm rooms and the chapel area of the training center.
In 2003 we added a 120 foot X 300 foot landscaped cross on the back of the property. You will find fourteen stations as you walk the paths of the cross.
You will find setting areas, fountains and at night it is all lighted up. This area is meant to be a place to find peace, quietness, to pray and do devotions. We also plan on doing many of the share times the groups have during their visit with us. We believe this area is going to be one of those special places you will remember from your mission’s trip to Way of the Cross.
We had been praying for years asking the Lord to send someone who could maintain the fleet of busses, vans and other vehicles the ministry uses. What a double blessing when Matt Butler, Ben & Jeanne’s son, moved his family from Austin to Harlingen to join the ministry. In 2003 we converted the storage building on the southeast corner of the property into a mechanic’s garage. Matt’s diligence and hard work continues to touch many lives everyday at the ministry.
In 2004 we built a new storage room and in 2005 we added much needed class rooms to the back of the kitchen area.
The Training Center continues to be the hub of the ministry. It is where you will find Ben before dawn most mornings walking the grounds praying and studying for his next message. It is the place where the coffee is always made early for anyone who needs a cup. Early on Monday mornings all the staff gathers for the weekly staff meeting. Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings it becomes a house of Worship not only for staff, groups but also many people from the surrounding area.
It is the place where we come together to party together. You never know when there will be a bar-b-q, a fajita cook off, or wedding reception. At Christmas time Ben is always makes a huge batch of fudge and how good it is will determine weather there is any left over for everyone that comes for the Big Feed.
The training center is the place where people are always coming and going. It is not unusual to wake up and find individuals or families staying at the center. People know they are always welcome so they will show up most anytime day or night grab a place to sleep. During many months out of the year we have groups going and coming. Those groups going on into the interior to spend time in Aldama or Padilla usually spend one night going and coming at the center. Those groups who come to work just across the border call the training center home during their time with us.
Only the Lord knew how much we needed these facilities and how much they would be used over the years. We are very grateful to Him for not only furnishing the training center but for also sending the volunteers and materials over the years to remodel and maintain the facilities. Hundreds of people have given their time and finances to make the Training Center a reality. Only the Lord knows how many lives have been touched and changed because of these facilities.