faith in action

Ministry with: House of the Carpenter

Generational poverty is difficult to interrupt. The Pre-Work Program at House of the Carpenter introduces students to new possibilities and inspires them to envision a different reality for themselves. We spoke with the Rev. Dr. Mike Linger at House of the Carpenter to learn more.

A child tries on firefighter gear in front of a fire truck at a a fire station.

Generational poverty is difficult to interrupt and is often a source of hopelessness for those who cannot break the cycle. Without exposure to opportunities that would provide pathways out of poverty, children and youth are less likely to feel optimistic about their future.

One ministry in Wheeling, West Virginia, is introducing students to new possibilities and, in doing so, inspiring them to envision a different reality for themselves. We spoke with the Rev. Dr. Mike Linger at House of the Carpenter to learn more.

Tell us about the ministry.

The Pre-Work Program at House of the Carpenter introduces the participants to existing opportunities that are often foreign to them and connects school to a real-world purpose. Many of the impoverished youth in our community have given up hope for their future. They cannot imagine having a meaningful job and often dismiss education as having any value.

Over a four-week period, the middle school participants show up on time, dressed for the task at hand and engage the leaders for the day. Each day they will visit a variety of local businesses and professions. The participants learn about the different vocations available and the education required for the position. For example, in the hospital, they explore everything from dietician to doctor, and the steps to each position. They also take classes in money management, resume writing, and interview skills to build self-confidence. At the conclusion of the program, they receive a stipend, part of which must be deposited into a savings account.

What dream is the ministry pursuing?

“Without a vision, the people perish.” (Pr. 29:18) The goal is for each participant to be more confident, see value in their education and possibly have something in mind for the future.

Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?

One young man came in with a career plan: he was going to play professional football. During a visit to the hospital, the physical therapy department made an impression on him. Later he told me that while talking with the therapist he realized he might get hurt and not play but that he could still be involved with football as a physical therapist. He then described the education required for the job, and then made a profound statement, “My grades suck, but I’m the only one who can fix that.” He is now a solid B student, still intending to go professional, but with a backup plan, just in case.

What have your neighbors taught you in doing this work?

They have shown us that vision and opportunity are powerful. We have witnessed participants invest themselves in their education with a passion because they understand it has a purpose. Others have envisioned a future beyond what is outside their door. Hope has flourished simply because they realize there is more opportunity than they knew existed.

How have relationships transformed the community?

When we began, it was difficult to convince business to open their doors to us. This year, we had more businesses wanting us to come than we had time in the program. The attorney that helped us with the law enforcement/legal field accepted a phone call from one of our participants a year later and spent about 45 minutes in conversation with the young lady. Meeting these youths and seeing their enthusiasm changes people and their perception of youth living in poverty.

What advice would you give to others who are working in ministry with?

The kids we work with have talents and abilities that are often overshadowed by their poverty. So many people are busy closing doors in front of them, but opening doors and helping them see what is possible is truly one of the greatest gifts we can provide. We need to realize, however, if we open the door, if we spark a dream, we need to be there to provide support throughout the journey.

How can people contact you?

People can contact us at the House of the Carpenter at 304-233-4640 or by email at