Something happened to love, maybe recently and maybe decades ago. We re-wrote it, changed its rules. Made it our own and pretended that doing so had no consequences. As long as we love the way we want to and others do the same, what's the harm, right?
But then something else happens. We forget to love because we're caught up in telling everybody what love looks like. It's all about relationships. It's all about actions. It's all about intentions. And nobody else can be right because then we'd be wrong. Sometimes it seems like we dismantle ourselves in an attempt to coexist. Which is why it's so nice to hear from people like Eddie Price, a 17-year resident of Euless, Texas currently serving in Place 3 on the city council.
“People are out here for different reasons,” said Price, a professed Christian who has served with 6 Stones since its launch. “Some people might not enthusiastically do it for the Lord but have other reasons for wanting to help people. It's just a good thing. Everybody can get on board and do something in some way.”
Christians serve beside Atheists serve beside Muslims serve beside Humanists serve beside folks who just aren't sure, and we're better for it. It's not like Jesus worked exclusively with Christians. There sort of weren't any when He started His ministry. And yet for some reason, after He went home, there were a whole lot of people doing and valuing the things He taught. There still are.
This year, we called for help from five cities in a tight network right around our office. The call was the same as it always has been: Come and fix. Come and heal. Come and see. Come and be part of something bigger than yourselves. More than ever before, the call was answered.
“I'm learning from the best people how to do better. To perform better and to help these people with the best of my ability.”
Over 1,000 volunteers from companies, churches, schools and private groups turned out to work on 38 homes in 5 cities during a beautiful weekend in mid-October, and not one of them said exactly the same thing when we asked them why they did it. To be sure, many came to “be responsible” or to “live out their faith” or to “give back.” But each of them expressed their desire in a different way. Because each of them is different. That's how people work.
“I'm working with older guys and they have a lot of wisdom, a lot of things I can learn from,” said Isaiah, a younger member of First Baptist Euless. “That's probably the biggest thing, is fellowshipping with older people who know more than I do.”
Miles away, a college student named Caitlin — who came home for the weekend to serve in her 6th CPR event — expressed the same value from a different perspective: “I've got to use circular saws, sawzalls, paintbrushes, rakes, everything; and I'm learning from the best people how to do better. To perform better and to help these people with the best of my ability.”
“It's important to do things like this because that's what we're called to do. When you're a Christian and you're supposed to be out there showing God's love, this is one of the ways you can. It's not the only way, but it's one of the ways.”
Down and across the highway in the city of Bedford, men and women from huge companies like Classic Chevrolet and Lockheed Martin swung hammers, pulled weeds and patched roofs with a mind for corporate and social responsibility.
“Classic is one of the number one dealerships in the country,” a representative from the Thompson Group at Classic Chevrolet said. “We wouldn't be doing our part if we didn't give right back to the community that supports us and makes us number one.”
“The fact that they are complete strangers who would help somebody out is astonishing to me.”
By no means were the students less responsible than their corporate counterparts, nor did those professionals lack any of the fellowship and learning experienced by the younger laborers. It doesn't matter what draws a person to serve at CPR — or any 6 Stones event, for that matter — because their initial craving for service is just a reflection of their design. The process will always be the same: people who lack something serve different people who lack a different something and everyone comes away better.
“The fact that they are complete strangers who would help somebody out is astonishing to me,” said Kimberli, a single mother whose home needed work after two car crashes and a series of back surgeries left her unable to maintain it herself. “They are blessings to me and godsends. I cannot lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk right now. To do everything that they're doing is something I'm not capable of.”
Due to unforeseeable circumstance, this intelligent and capable woman was unable to do or pay for the work that her home needed. But that didn't stop her from being part of the weekend. She baked cookies and mingled with her volunteers, shared her story with everyone who would listen and was perhaps the brightest example of a life-well-lived on display during the weekend. She brought just as much healing to the people who labored on her home as they brought to her.
“People should help people.”
All around the city, men and women like her gave the gift of life to volunteers at their homes. One homeowner, an aging actor and projectionist who is out of work in the digital age of cinema, couldn't believe that volunteers at his home asked him not to thank them for their work, saying it was their pleasure; their joy. He thanked them all the same, stepping out of his home repeatedly to share his gracious disbelief.
A retired City of Euless employee spent her weekend reminiscing with former co-workers who had come to revitalize her home of 54 years. Though her eyes had begun to fail and her husband had passed away 18 months before the event, there was more love in her front yard over the course of two days than some of us will find in a lifetime. Volunteers from the City of Euless, given the day off on Friday to go and serve, were joined there on Saturday by students from Trinity High School. Both the Volleyball and Robotics teams turned out in force at a home mere miles from their school. And they, too, had their own reasons for doing so.
“6 Stones helps us out a lot, to get to our competitions every year,” said the Vice President of THS Robotics, who chose to remain anonymous. “So we decided that we need to give back to our community since the community is giving to us, as well.”
Their decision is representative of the broader change we hope to inspire in North Texas: people giving because they've received. The human response to generosity is a dual sense of hope and duty. We love to share in doing what's right. It reminds us that we were made for more than mere survival. We're meant to live harmoniously, to have relationships. And realizing that draws us toward something better.
“I think [CPR] is the greatest idea in the world. I think there's a lot of people can benefit from this that have problems like mine,” said Michael, a 50-year-old homeowner well past his 20-year life expectancy and awaiting a transplant. “If I could actually be a person to help people, I would do it. That's the kind of person I am. My dad always says ‘you're always helping everybody' and I say ‘that's the way that I am!'”
“People should help people. I think it's a nice community program that gets everybody together.”
With the sun and heat, it's impossible for Michael to stay outside in more than brief bursts. He has Eisenmenger syndrome, a complication of congenital defects that causes the heart and lungs to fail over time. After years of work as a mechanic in California and a successful marriage, however, only a fool would say that Michael is missing anything that makes him human. All he needs is a healthy body to match his healthy mind and soul.
“I grew up in this area and I'm a graduate of a local high school, so it's nice to come back and help the people who make this community such a great place.”
There's value everywhere in a CPR blitz. That's the secret behind it. Our most recent blitz was perhaps the most inspirational yet. From the largest group of volunteers in the history of the program to our 400th home repaired in the area to the astounding stories of the men and women we serve and the generosity of the people who serve with us, there's no shortage of things at which to marvel.
Centro Christiano Bet El church in Richland Hills gathered a third of its congregation to serve at two homes. Contractors within that church offered thousands of dollars in free labor for the weekend to go above and beyond the expectations of the city, the homeowner and even the 6 Stones staff.
“Different people who own different companies and different contractors from our church decided to sign on,” said Martin, a site captain from the church. “One of [them], who happens to be our youth pastor, decided to replace the roof of the house, seeing that it was severely damaged. He's also helping around in the other cities to do other roofs, as well.”
Elsewhere, a completely different demographic was learning to develop the city that raised them.
“It's wonderful to give back to a community that gives so much to us,” said Phillip, a teacher and National Junior Honor Society sponsor at Central Junior High whose students helped with Kimberli's home. “I grew up in this area and I'm a graduate of a local high school, so it's nice to come back and help the people who make this community such a great place.”
“They were excited,” he said of his students. “I was a little worried. You know, when you bring kids to do some yard work and hard labor like this; blue collar work… but they've been excited. They've been working hard. They've been asking if they can take on bigger responsibilities. So it's a surprise in the best kind of way.”
That's what we do here at 6 Stones: we surprise people with the beauty of their design. That's why we invite everyone, no matter what they're looking for, to come and be a part of what we do. To come and discover what they were meant to be.