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Midland Living Magazine

Building on Faith

What started as a call to action for one Sunday School class 50 years ago is now nearing the completion of 15,000 projects.
Written by  AVERY PULLIN  |  Photos provided by NATE KNOWLES

In 1972, as Bobby Trimble taught his young mens class, they were convicted to live out their faith in a more tangible way.  Turning to James 2:14-17, they found, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  (NIV)

Initially, the group’s goal was to repair homes for single women in the community, and their first project was just that. Through their work Christmas in April, which later became Christmas in Action, was born. By 1980 Christmas in April had a charter and 501(c)3 status in Texas with multiple projects and volunteer groups working together. 

The national organization was started in 1988 and had 13 affiliates. When Midland chose to leave the national office, approximately 250 affiliates across the United States had been established. Due to the local organization’s earnest desire to live out their faith and ensure this is not a government funded program, the ministry continues to be solely funded by individuals, churches, businesses, and foundations.

While the mission and goal of Christmas in Action has remained constant, a few changes were made over the years. What started as an April-based project turned into a 52-week/year organization that now has two full-time employees. Tracye Vaughan serves as the Executive Director, and Nate Knowles serves as the Director of Operations. 

2022 marks 50 years that Christmas in Action has helped Midlanders with emergency and general home repairs. During this 50th anniversary year, they will complete their 15,000th project. Once again, the focus will be aiding an elderly, single woman with repairs to her home. Fifty years and 15,000 projects later, the work Bobby Trimble’s group began in faith has turned into action.

One of Nate’s roles with Christmas in Action is to train the volunteers. His story begins in Indiana, but he found Midland in the early 2000s when his wife Lauren took a job here. As he made friends in the Permian Basin and they discovered his great carpentry skills, they encouraged him to work with them one weekend for Christmas in Action. One week turned into two weeks. And two weeks turned into a full-scale project and ultimately a board position.

In 2015 Nate and his wife moved back to Indiana to be closer to family, but Bobby soon called to ask how long it would take the Knowles to get back to Midland. In 2018 they did move back, and Nate began his role as Director of Operations where he oversees the volunteer program.
While Christmas in Action continues to have their biggest volunteer push each Spring, today they serve the community year-round. To volunteer, you don’t need prior carpentry or remodel experience. Nate will train you (or your entire group) and supply you with materials, tools, and equipment. Help is needed anywhere from picking up nails to completely remodeling a home or anything in between. 

In 2018 Christmas in Action was completing approximately 400 projects a year. By 2021 they did 845 projects. However, their volunteer pool went from 3,000 pre-COVID to roughly one-third of that today. While financial contributions are always needed and appreciated (especially with rising material costs), Nate says the time volunteers give is irreplaceable. 

Nate describes the needs in our current world, “We worked through COVID and the winter storm [of 2021]. We have not stopped, because the people we support need us even more to live in their homes safely.” Those who apply for assistance from Christmas in Action must be 60 years old or older (or disabled), own their own home, be on a fixed income (average of $900/month), and reside within Midland County. †

If you are interested in volunteering, there is no need to wait. Get in on the action now with Christmas in Action and build on faith. You can find Christmas in Action on Facebook @ChristmasInAction or online at For inquiries about volunteering, email Nate Knowles at [email protected] 

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