The Wards

By Liz Powers, Partnership Coordinator

‘These kids will seriously be in my eulogy. Those five weeks were the most joyful time in my entire life.’

 

As I entered their dining room for the first time since it had been a Next Step construction zone, Mrs. Ward shared the quote above. She quickly ushered me to the far side of the room where an entire wall had been dedicated to framed pictures and notes from the 5 Next Step groups who had worked on their home this summer. For the next hour and a half, I had the privilege of hearing just how much the Wards’ lives had changed as they experienced the love of Christ through the platform of home repair.

 

After being referred through our trusted partners at Neighborhood Alliance in the fall of 2017, I had the honor of meeting the Wards for the first time shortly after. As I toured their home, I was immediately impacted by the love they had for each other and their community as a whole. At the age of 70, Mrs. Ward commits 3-4 days a week to volunteering in a local thrift shop and Mr. Ward, at 74 years old, serves on the front lines of organizing fundraising efforts to send children with type 1 diabetes to a specialized summer camp. Mrs. Ward would later share with me just how nervous she was that first day as it had been a two year process for her to work up the courage to reach out for help with the growing hole in her dining room ceiling and the safety hazards on the staircases to both entrances of their home. It’s not easy asking for assistance.

 

As we got to know each other leading up to the summer, the Wards shared their stories with me. We talked about everything from their wedding 20 years ago, to their children and grandchildren, and even their separate upbringings- each full of different celebrations and challenges. As I learned more and more about this couple, I was certain that God had big things in store for what was about to unfold at their home this summer- and not just big construction projects either.

 

As I sat with the Wards just a couple of days ago, I asked them what their favorite thing was about their experience this summer. What Mr. Ward said was profound, ‘We are greatly blessed by the construction projects that took place at our home, but what really impacted us was the experience of it all.’ Mrs. Ward added, ‘The most memorable part of this experience was the hugs, dancing around my dining room with the kids, laughing, crying, and just the feeling of love like I’ve never felt it before, without any judgement.’

 

The Wards’ story is one of many displaying the power of the God we serve. Only a powerful God can create life long impacts using 5 groups of complete strangers for week long increments. Only a powerful God can use those strangers to portray a love like never experienced before. And only our powerful God can use this short period of time to change lives forever.