About US

383052 10151206533271410 490874981 n

Richard and Robyn Wharton

Born a poor preachers kid, we didn’t have a home of our own or at least it seemed that way at times because we moved a lot. I grew up in church most of my life. One summer I came under conviction on a Thursday night at church camp, so I knelt down next to the log I was sitting on because I was shy and didn’t want to go down to the front. Knowing I was a sinner, I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of ten.

My father, a pastor of a Missionary Baptist church, found himself having to also work a secular job to meet the needs of his family. I grew up helping him on week- ends and summers learning how to be a plumber. After high school I attended a year of technical school in Arizona where I learned about electrical. After school I moved home and worked installing pools and spas.

My Parents (best ever)

155696 1231171477638 944002 n

Several years later I started working with my dad building and remodeling homes.

projectsJuly-August2009 034[1]

We have a home base which is in California. We aren’t there very much because we are constantly on the move. Now I look back and see how God is using everything in my past to bring about what He is now doing in my life. I now work for my Lord and Savior and am using skills from every trade and circumstance that God allowed me to go through earlier in my life.

Howard Frakes was the original Chapel Builder and a true inspiration to me. He had a heart of gold and would have done just about anything for someone in need. I learned a lot during the times that I worked with Howard and saw his Love for God and His people. He was a builder and found a way to serve his Savior through a ministry that He and his home church, First Missionary Baptist Church, Fresno, founded. They called it Chapel Builders of California. It officially began in 1988. Then, in 1996 Howard went home to be with his Lord. Later that year the church asked if I would be willing to continue the ministry that Howard started.

It’s hard to describe the struggles and blessings that this request brought to our lives, but I’ll try. My first excuse for not accepting the call was financial, and it seems we are all cursed with this struggle at different times in our lives. I wasn’t sure our churches would support this type of ministry in a way that would allow me to work in it full time and be able to supply the needs of my family.

ryan's party 089

Robyn was working a full time job that she was good at and she was paid well. Our medical insurance was provided through her job. I had my own construction business so my income was based on the amount of work I was doing. So the thought of relying on our churches or oth- ers to provide for our needs was a very foreign concept to me. I understood how our missionaries were supported and saw how our churches didn’t support them faith- fully, and I was scared. I recalled the missionaries we supported over the years and recalled that most of them we didn’t know. We sent monies, but we didn’t know their needs or desires for the work they were doing, so the thought of our family jumping into a situation where churches would be sending money into a fund that would supply our needs caused great concern. I had seen how easy it was for a church to change their mind on whom they were supporting and how sometimes the churches finances would go down and the first thing to be lowered was the missionaries’ support.

One thing that really helped me was “Faith Promise Giving.” This is a program that was implemented by one of our churches. When a person agrees to make a commitment to tithe a certain amount above his or her regular tithe and offerings, this person then trusts God to supply his or her needs.

Knowing about this program gave me hope and strengthened my faith to know that if this was the will of God, then He would supply regardless of what others do or don’t do.

My Dad went on a Macedonian project in Florida with Howard and came back excited about learning of Faith Promise. The church implemented this, and it really changed my life and changed the way I saw mission work. This was a new way for our church to be involved with our missionaries and their needs, in addition to than just sending a check. Missionaries need those checks, but they also need our prayers and encouragement. We truly don’t know what to pray for or how to help them until we get to know them. Reading their reports is good, but actually going to where they are and seeing the field they are working in is so important and enables us to really understand the missionaries needs.

536430 1962856927830 1662040548 n

We accepted the church’s call, and initially told the church that I would do it on a part time basis. I would go on projects and then come home and do work through my business to help pay our bills. Robyn kept her job for that first year. When Howard was doing the ministry he only needed help with travel expenses and had about six hundred dollars of monthly support. By the end of the first year, we had about fifteen hundred a month in support. My busi- ness was struggling because when people would call needing work done, I was gone helping a church. I told Robyn that we either had to commit to doing the work full time or not at all because my business wouldn’t stay afloat much longer continuing this way. 

And I couldn’t be away from Robyn and our three girls and keep our family together. After much prayer, we announced that we were going to commit to doing the ministry full time, and we needed the support of our churches to do it. Robyn quit her job and started traveling with me.

I really don’t know how God supplied all of our needs but He did. We went from a monthly income of around 5 thousand to under 2 thousand, but through love offerings and the provisions of God we were able to pay our bills each month.

I went to Lithuania with a group of men from Louisiana to help them remodel a building they were going to use for their seminary. It was a great trip and I got to meet a great group of God’s men. Their home church in Louisiana was building a new building, and they asked if I would come help them for a few months. When we left California we didn’t have money to pay our bills at home and only enough money for the fuel to get us there. We pulled into the church property and barely parked when the ladies of the church took Robyn shopping and bought enough stuff to fill our trailer with goods. That Sunday they received an offering that was enough to pay our bills at home. While we were there they received two other offerings that sustained us and gave us enough to go help on a project in Indiana and also make it home. We never said anything to them about not having enough money to pay our bills or need- ing fuel. We left believing that God wanted us in this ministry and because He did He would supply. He did in a big way, and this was just one of the many stories of how God supplied.

390137 10151304730976410 1182697385 n

I now have no doubt God is involved in our ministry in a big way! I wasn’t sure about this at first and my prayer was, “Lord if you want me to do this you are going to have to show me and provide for our needs.” Well, there may come a day when the Lord says, “Richard it’s time for you to do something else.” I believe I’ll know when that day comes, but for now this is the ministry God is using me in and

I am so grateful that He is allowing me to work for Him through it.

“Chapel Builders of California” was the name chosen for this ministry, not because there were already a bunch of builders working together, but because there was the hope that there would be in the future. Howard enjoyed working with the Macedonian builders and wanted this ministry to be more than just a California work. This is something that I have tried to maintain; working with others is really what this ministry is about. We want to work along side the members of the churches and missions that we serve.

Chapel Builders was never intended to be a ministry in which we get a call to do some work, and then a group of builders would come and do the job (similar to hiring a Contractor). This is a volunteer based ministry in which we work along side churches of like faith. This gives the members of our sister churches ownership in their own buildings. When we go to places in California, out of state, or overseas it creates a bond between our churches and is a great example of associated work.

During Howard’s ministry with Chapel Builders, much of the time it was only Howard and Billie, his wife. In our first several years of this ministry, much of the time it was just Robyn and I. Sometimes we would arrive at the inviting church we were going to be working with and I would be asked, “Where are the chapel builders?” I am sure this per- ception was partially from the name and partially because peo- ple did not, understand what this ministry is. Over the years, from time to time, several people from sister churches would come out to help and much of the work was done with the help of the inviting church. About six years ago the Thiems joined us full time and now there are other full time builders working with us. I can’t express what an amazing blessing it is to have other full time builders working alongside us.

I haven’t had many people ask, Where are the chapel builders?” these past few years, but what I usually hear now is, “How are we going to feed all of these people?” It’s still a struggle at times to get the members of the church that we are helping to come out and work with us. We don’t want this to be a ministry that evolves into hiring out the chapel builders to come help work on our church. We never charge any church or missionary, in fact we go out of our way to let them know that we are there to help. I really believe they are missing out by not participating. Not that I am anything special, but anything that we do for our Savior is great!

Why do I do this? I don’t do it just to have a job. The hours in this ministry are very long; there is way too much travel, and time away from our home and church to choose this as my ideal job. I am not saying this not to com- plain because I couldn’t be happier doing anything else in this world.

418558 1936757075350 1456180912 n

As I mentioned earlier I’m a preacher’s kid, and my father has always put God and His church first. Every Saturday we mowed, cleaned, or repaired whatever was necessary, so that the Lord’s house looked the best that it could for Sunday services. We would then take care of what needed to be done around our own home. My father is also a builder, so when a sister church needed help we always did

that too. While in business with my father, if a church asked us for help, that church would come first. So as you might imagine when I see a building that has been dedicated to the Lord’s service and it’s in disrepair it breaks my heart.

I know that the building is not the church. Really it’s just a tool, but it’s also a special place because it is where the church comes together to worship our Lord and Savior. It’s where we invite our friends and neighbors, so that they can hear the gospel. It’s where the Spirit meets with us to worship. I believe that God deserves our best. Consider your home, is your churches building nicer than your home? Is the carpet, paint, furniture, lighting,

landscaping etc., nicer than the home that you live in? There are those of us who don’t care what our homes look like, but if you’re one of those imagine if someone famous was coming to your house for dinner, would you be embarrassed because your home was a mess and falling apart when he or she arrived? Yet, I sometimes see some of our churches a mess;

you can’t read the sign, the paint is peeling, you can’t tell where the tall grass ends and the flowerbeds or weeds begin. There is trash and clutter inside and outside the building; carpet and furnishings are worn out. Would you invite our Savior to dinner at your church?

Thankfully most of our church buildings are not this bad. Like I said, my desire is for our buildings to reflect our love for God. When God is our first priority we think about the church needing a new refrigerator before we think about the one in our home; we definitely wouldn’t be taking our old worn out one to the church when we get the new one for

our home. On one of our trips to Vanuatu we visited a sister church in a different village. Their building was made of bamboo and it had a thatch roof and walls. The pews, if you could call them that, were bamboo laid sideways about six inches above the ground. It had dirt floors and no piano. Their music minister had buried several different sized bamboo poles at different heights in the ground. When it was time to sing he began playing the bamboo drums. What impressed me was when we walked into the village the church building was the best looking bamboo hut in the vil- lage. The dirt floors had been swept and were as clean as dirt can be. The bamboo that we sat on was six inches or larger in diameter and one of the rarest kind on the island, which I was grateful for because anything smaller would have been very hard on the backside. Our buildings don’t

have to be expensive, just cared for as we care for the Lord. They should be the nicest looking building in the surrounding neighborhood. It is my desire to help our churches achieve this, and it’s the churches responsibility to continue keeping it that way once we have left.

302966 2227827934402 96898786 n

God has blessed us so much and continues to walk with us each day. I count on Him and am still excited by and ways that He uses and blesses us as we work for Him. Another one of my desires is for the Lord to bless you as he has blessed me. Our ministry, along with the other builders, and our missionaries all rely on the Lord first but also on the their home churches that send us out, and each supporting church that financially gets us where we are going. One of the hardest things about being in ministry is asking for financial support. I truly believe that God could do it without you, that he could raise up the rocks to praise Him and that He could shower down money from heaven as He did the manna. But he uses all of us through tithes and offerings to support each ministry and missionary, and I am thankful to God and for you and them.

The more we personally get involved in the lives of our missionaries, the more we can truly appreciate the needs they have. Financial support is necessary to get them in the field and keep them there, but remember while they are there needs always arise. Maybe the need is for a van to get kids to church, for money to buy materials to homeschool their children, to have a washing machine, or a furnace to heat their home, and so on. In addition, the dollar isn’t what is used to be on the exchange rate so it is costing a lot more than it used to both on the foreign field and also at home.

The missionaries also need our love, prayers, and encouragement. Some of them are in foreign fields where they speak a foreign language; they are away from their church, family, and friends  and it can be very lonely and challenging. Sending cards, notes, and even boxes of goodies from home helps them know, especially their wives and children, that they are not forgotten and their sacrifices matter. We covet your prayers and cannot continue without them. We are ambassadors sent out from our home church to share the love our church has for each of you. Please keep us in your prayers that we will not fall, that we will always maintain a godly character, and that everything we do will be for and about Christ our Lord and Savior.

May God richly bless each of you as you strive to work for Him, Richard Wharton


My sweetie

My name is Robyn Wharton, and I am privileged to married to be Richard Wharton, Chapel Builder of California. Richard and I have been blessed to be married twenty-four years, and have three amazing girls, Stevie, Kaitlyn, and Breann. The Lord called Richard into the building ministry sixteen years ago when First Missionary Baptist of Fresno asked him to head up Chapel Builders of California. After much prayer, he accepted, and I knew in my heart that if God had called Richard into the ministry then I wasn’t go- ing to say “no” to God.

I was saved when I was in sixth grade, but the church I attended had some confusing practices, so I quit going. I always believed God loved me, even when I wasn’t living my life the way I knew I should be. I always felt God drawing me to Him. After Richard and I were married and had Stevie, we knew that our lives needed to change. We started attending Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Madera, California, where his dad was pastor, and that was where I

was baptized and joined the Lord’s church. I learned a lot, but once God called Richard into the building ministry that is when I feel I started really growing spiritually.

When Richard first started doing Chapel Builders I was working full time, and the girls were in school, but we knew in order for our family to be together that I would need to quit, and homeschool our kids. The Lord worked everything out in His perfect timing. He increased our support with minimal deputation, and He provided us a truck and trailer. When I gave notice to my boss, he offered me a part time job that gave us insurance for nine months longer. They let me quit when it was time for my first foreign trip. All of this happened in God’s timing.

My first foreign project was to Vanuatu in the South Pacific where David Bennett was missionary. We went to the island of Tanna. It took two days and four airplanes to get there. Before we boarded the last airplane, they weighed each of us and our luggage. I was horrified. We flew with chickens, and from our seats you could see out the door. The pilot looked like he was hung over and had just woken up, and even some of the seat belts didn’t work. When I saw that we were about to land, I thanked God, even though we were landing in a grass field with pigs and chickens running all over the place. There were over twenty-four in our group and this was going to be a building, teaching, and medical mission trip.

400481 3813754941586 1998557476 n

Vanuatu to me “was the uttermost part of the world” that the Bible tells us to go unto. When we ar- rived at the village where we would be working and sleeping, we were welcomed by villagers who were singing. They were singing hymns in both English and in their native tongue. They also sang the song about the story of their lives, and how someday people would come and tell them about Jesus. As they sang they would stomp their feet on the ground making it shake. They were dressed in grass skirts and gave each of us a lei made out of the marigold flower that grew there. When they shook hands, it was with a strong and confident grip. We ate interesting food like taro, lap lap, and rice. They served it in pie tins that they cleaned with water and ash from the active volcano on the island.

We had some supplies sent ahead in a container, so Richard and I had our own tent to sleep in. One of the honeymoon suites we all joked about. The natives sleep in grass huts with dirt floors. The huts are made from leaves the ladies weave together and assemble into huts or a shelter.

My job, was to do all the laundry which I did in five gallon buckets. I even shaved some of the ladies legs who were from our team. There was running water but no electricity. We laughed as we helped the ladies to learn how to sew, and we also conducted Bible studies. The men built a bathroom and kitchen for the missionary. They dug a septic tank and used bamboo for pipes which was really neat. The doctor and nurses ministered to many, many people. People walked hours just to get medical attention. We walked in order to visit some of the other churches on the island and sat in grass huts and on bamboo for our seats. The people there took care of their churches and each village supported their pastor by giving him the things they grew from their gardens. Our restrooms were a hole in the ground with a grass hut around it. Thankfully, one of the men built a box with a toilet seat, and I put my seat covers inside for us to use. When we left I thought I would never go back, but God sent us there two more times. One of the those times I was a group leader and flew without Richard which is a God thing because I hate to fly.

Whorton girls

Homeschooling our children was an adventure. Trying to figure out curriculum was interesting, as was coming up with a way pay for it, but God put people in our lives to help. He led us to know about one of our churches in Berryville, Arkansas, that has a program called “Helping Our Missionaries

Educate,” which enabled us buy our school materials the whole time we homeschooled. The kids both liked and hated being homeschooled, but they know now that it gave them opportunities they never would have had. And they realized they got to be with their dad much more. He taught them how to hammer, and get on a roof. They slid down dirt piles, and met so many of God’s people. They also saw a lot of God’s country. They were also able to go to Romania with us. They helped the Rutherford’s move into their home when they first went on the field, while their dad helped Doug Weirsema build pews for the church. The trip that touched their hearts the most, was when

we went to Florida to help after Hurricane Charlie hit and destroyed a lot of homes and churches. We were there for almost two months. All three girls made friends and the twins learned to sing a special called “Above All.” We appreciated the opportunity to be there and help churches, and members whose homes had been affected by the hurricane. Our girls have all graduated from school. Stevie is married, Kaitlyn and Breann are going to college in Las Vegas.

The building ministry is not like your typical mission, because we do not stay in one place. This ministry keeps us on the move a lot. We are always going from one location to the next. When the

girls were little it was hard because they hated being gone from home and church friends. It was lonely sometimes for me, too. On a lot of projects we were the only ones there. Richard worked all day, and I homeschooled the kids. At times it was not so fun, and I craved adult conversation big time. But through it all God gave His grace and helped. We began praying for more people to help Richard when he was working on churches and God supplied. We now have been joined by the Thiems, the Carneys, the Phillips, the Weidners, and Phillip Mohr. It is such a blessing to have

helpers and we are able to get more work done on more churches and it is not so lonely.

When the kids were little, I really didn’t help much on the buildings and was clueless as to where to help since I had no building skills. Over the years I have learned to help wherever I could; in the kitchen, sweeping up, handing the guy’s tools, and now I get to paint and go to Home Depot for supplies. I also like to bake cookies and even made some in Vanautu the second time we went. It is so nice to be able to do some things that help Richard, our co-laborers and the churches. I love to see all

the changes that are made in making God’s houses more beautiful for Him. The excitement in the church members faces, and the response from the people who walk by is my reward and encouragement. And also being able to share Jesus and invite them to come to church. I also love to work alongside my husband, and our brothers and sisters in Christ to make God’s churches beautiful.

I am so blessed to be able to serve God in this ministry. We go to bless people but you end up being blessed

yourself. It has changed me, the way I look at things, people, and who I am. God has taught me patience, as I learn that things don’t always go as planned, but that He will provide, that He loves me, and that no matter who you are, you can have an impact on lives. I have been blessed to meet God’s people all over the world and to work alongside my husband, and hope- fully the Lord has used me to touch people’s lives as they have touched mine.


Builders of California 

Full time builders working together for the Lord's churches

The thiems ocean view

The Thiems  www.facebook.com/jlthiem

Stan & Corita

The Carneys  http://norcalchurchbuilders.com/

weidner family

The Wiedners  http://facebook.com/jayleonw


The Whartons  "your on our web site"  

26805324 10215488338990399 9198006097751728222 n

Ryan Budda full time builder sent out by Bethel MBC Otis Orchards Wa

© Richard Wharton 2012