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Mother of 12 gets extreme home makeover

Meet Mary. She’s a sweet, 78-year-old, wheelchair-bound mother of 12 (yes, 12) who lives in Columbia, Mo.
Mary enjoys reading Bible stories to her grandchildren, who always seem to be at her place. She also has two disabled children — a son and a daughter — who live with her.
This kind woman has little money and lives in a 40-year-old house. Until not long ago, her home was almost uninhabitable.
The Council on Aging provided limited services to Mary. But the council lacked the people power to bring about big change, even though there was grant money available.
Enter the Fairview Road Church of Christ, my home congregation. Earlier this year, Fairview determined to be more intentional about being the hands and feet of Christ. We wanted to serve and teach those in our town as Jesus would. God had already placed on the hearts of the congregation that this year’s “mission trip” should be local. And Fairview was already working with the council on smaller projects.
But then Mary’s situation came to light. Then came a revelation: As the local “mission trip,” why not an extreme home makeover for Mary?
When church member Stuart Spradling and I met Mary at her house to consider if it was possible, the conditions were shocking: open sewer in the basement, broken toilets and sinks, the washing machine leaked in the kitchen, the roof leaked. Heat spilled out of the dark, un-air-conditioned room where the grandkids played on the dirty carpet.
Mary’s house needed a renewal, but it was hard to imagine it could be done.
People came out in droves, mainly church members, but also folks from the community and Mary’s family, too. In just four days in July, more than 100 volunteers — ages 4 to 80 — donated 960 hours of work. Each shift members provided a meal and devotional. One night Mary’s family treated us to a tasty barbecue meal prepared by her disabled son who used to cook for the family business.
Between the congregation, local businesses, individuals and the Council on Aging — which donated $1,500 in grant money to the cause — Mary’s house was renewed.
The volunteers fixed the plumbing and the roof and widened the bathroom door for Mary’s wheelchair. They washed and painted the outside of the house and installed a concrete walk. Landscaping was done with donated plants.
The inside received new paint, new curtains and new carpet along with a new refrigerator, washer, microwave, air-conditioning unit and couch. With help, Mary also got rid of the clutter.
As the work wound up, we found out that back in January, Mary was hospitalized for 40 days and was not expected to survive.
When Mary recovered, she said that she knew that before she went to her heavenly home that somehow her house would be transformed into a beautiful earthly home again.
Little did she know then what God had planned. It is awe-inspiring to see the renewal that God orchestrates when his people are willing to live out their faith as the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Christ.
Mary received a beautiful, orderly, renewed home. Mary’s son got to cook again. The Council on Aging has a new model for getting things done. The church was renewed through the blessing of being able to help others by working together and seeing first hand God moving in the lives of people.
When we seek to serve, God directs and we all find renewal.

BRIAN HAJICEK  is a minister at the Fairview Road church in Columbia, Mo. He can be reached at [email protected].

  • Feedback
    I’m glad that whoever was responsible for getting this article published here was more focused on the good work being done than the wording, and realizes that yes, as a matter of fact, God is working today.
    Wagoner Church of Christ
    Wagoner, OK
    November, 11 2009

    What a thrilling testimony of a cofC that has joined the ranks of the blessed. And blessed they are! You can’t minister like the Fairview Road congregation has in this story without coming away with a heart overflowing with unspeakable joy. It is the highest of all earthly blessings. God really loves these Fairview brothers and sisters.
    Paul Covey
    Central Church of Christ
    Stockton, CA
    September, 18 2009

    Brian Hajicek’s story on a church in Missouri’s project to help an elderly lady included this line:
    “God had already placed on the hearts of the congregation that this year’s “mission trip” should be local.”
    Just how did God do that? That is very specific information, not a general sentiment that could be found in Scripture. Is God speaking directly today? How did the leadership of this church know it was God who “placed” this on their hearts?
    perhaps more importantly, why does the CC present such flagrant charismatic views without any censure or comment of any kind?
    church of Christ
    Dallas, TX
    September, 15 2009

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