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30 Years of Building Churches

U.S. MAPS volunteer Tommy Trumbo still energetic at 81.

Solid Rock Assembly of God in Senatobia, Mississippi, broke ground on its new sanctuary in August 2016. But the 450-seat facility really came to life when 81-year-old U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) RV volunteer Tommy Gene Trumbo took over as foreman in January 2018.

Pastor Chris Nowell, 44, says Trumbo has framed the inside, laid out where everything’s supposed to go, and overseen the project. The new sanctuary should be ready for occupancy by early November.

Because of Trumbo and other MAPS volunteers, known across the Assemblies of God as RVers, Solid Rock will save more than $600,000 on the project. Instead of $1.1 million, Nowell estimates the 10,000 square-foot-facility will cost the church around $450,000.

“It’s quite a blessing to us,” Nowell says.

Over the past 32 years, Tommy and his wife, Mary A. Trumbo, have been a huge blessing to the Fellowship. The couple has worked on more than 125 churches, campgrounds, and other facilities in 16 states and 16 foreign countries.

In recent months, the Trumbos curtailed travel so Mary can care for their oldest son, who has been diagnosed with cancer. However, that didn’t stop Tommy from helping Solid Rock near their Senatobia home, where they settled a decade ago after living for years in Memphis, Tennessee.

“He loves getting up every morning and having somewhere to go and having something to build,” Mary says. “He just loves to work.”

Tommy developed his skills naturally, starting in his family’s steel construction business at an early age. He considered a pastoral calling, enrolling in Central Bible College after high school. Tommy and Mary met in Springfield, where Mary’s father worked at Gospel Publishing House  After marrying in 1957, Tommy moved back to Memphis.

Later, the pastor of what is now known as The House visited Tommy in a hospital while in recuperated from surgery. Upon release, the Trumbos visited the church and the pastor put him to work.

Following completion of an outdoor metal stairway, Tommy helped with a two-story educational wing and other structures. In the midst of all that construction, he went on a mission trip to Haiti.

“The trip made a lasting impression on Tommy,” Mary says. “He looked like death warmed over when he got off the plane, but he was hooked and ready to go again.”

Tommy led numerous mission trips before declaring in 1986 he was ready to leave business to spend all his time building churches with U.S. Missions.

The idea of relying on donations unsettled Mary, who made a list of what she wanted God to provide so she would know this was His will. Soon, all five items on the list appeared. That included finding a 40-foot-long travel trailer that served as their home for many years and the funds to pay for it. Mary quickly adjusted to life on the road.

“I put up Sheetrock and nailed walls together,” says Mary, 79. “I used to help on the roofs, but the older I got I finally drew the line there.”

Among their dozens of projects, Tommy considers helping build a 186-foot-long swinging bridge in Papua New Guinea, in 2000 the highlight. Two AG missionaries working with Wycliffe Bible Translators helped raise funds for the first MAPS project outside the U.S.

That kind of effort characterizes the Trumbos, according to Elmer B. Huffman, the only other U.S. MAPS missionary with more than 30 years of service.

“He’s been faithful,” says the 80-year-old Huffman, who lives in Cowpens, South Carolina.

IMAGE: Solid Rock Assembly of God in Senatobia, Mississippi.

Kenneth C. Walker

Kenneth C. Walker is a freelance writer, co-author, and book editor from Huntington, West Virginia. He has more than 4,500 article bylines and has written, edited, or contributed to more than 90 books.