In terms of strategic impact, there is no volunteer role within the Community Powered Revitalization program that matches a Homeowner Liaison for importance. A liaison is the direct link between our offices and the homeowners who request our help. Without that line of communication, we'd have no way of evaluating and cataloging needs, nurturing relationships or determining a proper response to each and every inquiry. Simply put: without these hardworking volunteers and the hours they spend visiting with homeowners between blitzes, we wouldn't be able to serve this community effectively.
Jon Rhiddlehoover, an area pastor at Pantego Bible Church, has taken a long road to land where he is now. Currently responsible for a small portion of the Fort-Worth-based church's population that includes around 100 citizens of Hurst, Euless and Bedford, he's been ministering for a long time. He just wasn't a minister yet. Jon signed on as a full-time pastor and as the Homeowner Liaison for the city of Bedford last year. According to him, it wasn't a tough decision in the slightest.
“To be able to make an impact in our community, we've got to have a lot of people on the same page, moving in the same direction, in support of the people that are in need to really improve our city at the end of the day,” Jon said. “There's a lot of needs and I don't know of any other organization out there that I've seen or been involved in [that does] intentionally what 6 Stones does… everything that they do is trying to make the city a better place to live. Everything that they do is to try to bless people — by the work of their hands — in a Gospel-centered, Christ-centered movement towards missional living.”
We're excited to have Jon on board. A veteran Site Captain of previous blitzes, this fall was his first hurdle as a liaison. During the CPR blitz last October, he helped us to better serve homeowners combating everything from financial distress to hospitalization and recovery. He brings a unique perspective to our work, as well, thanks to the time he's spent living on all sides of the program.
“God really took me along a pretty crazy path.” Jon said. Altogether, he's spent eleven years in ministry, almost nine of them working a full time job outside of the church. For eight and a half years, Jon worked at Redi-Mix Concrete in Euless. That's how he found us initially. And it's the last corporate job he ever had. “God called me out of the business world and into ministry full time,” he recalled. “I started there in January of 2015.”
Whether you believe in God or Fate or Karma, it's hard to deny that talented and knowledgeable people keep turning up just when we need them here at 6 Stones. Whether its volunteers or last-minute landscapers or visionary high-schoolers, the people of HEB always seem to have exactly what we need, when we need it. It's our pleasure to welcome them and their ideas. In fact, they're often the key to our biggest wins.
For Jon, of course, a win takes many forms. A former leader in the business world who now shepherds Christ-followers for a living, Jon was kind enough to expound upon the reason so many incredible people seem keen to partner with our little organization. In his eyes, they come to plug in; to get involved, to grow together and to follow their faith. They come to serve. They come to join in something bigger than any of us.
“It's amazing to see the coalition, really, of business and churches and community people; school districts, city governments coming together to serve their community. And it really takes all of them to do it,” Jon said. From his perspective, every facet of the community has something to give and something to gain by taking part in 6 Stones initiatives. Whether it's CPR or Operation Back 2 School or the New Hope Center, Jon claims that everyone wins by joining together. He's also nice enough to credit us with providing them a place to do just that.
“After sharing the vision that I was given from 6 Stones about CPR and all that they did, there was a lot of people who were like ‘man, this is something we can get our arms around,'” Jon said of his experience bringing Pantego into the coalition. “It wasn't just serving the community and being involved in something big; it was being Christ-centered with regards to their service. Gospel driven in their missional focus on serving the body of Christ and those that don't know Christ. Bringing friends along with them that are non-believers that can spend time serving other people. We can explain to them: ‘What is serving? What is a servant? What does that look like? Why do we do it?' That's where we got started.”
From a church-goer's perspective, that's a golden opportunity. It's not required that our partners or volunteers be Christian, nor do we force anyone to discuss their religion in the field. We welcome anyone and everyone to serve, and to do so in whatever way they are best equipped. But there's a certain pull among members of the church community that we can't deny: they want to live out their faith, and doing so makes them perfect volunteers. That's the value of allowing churches to join the team. Jon says that it's not altogether different on the corporate side of things.
“Every business, internally, has a focus on taking care of their community. They want to be seen as people that are community-driven. They want to be seen as a part of the local body of people. They also want to continue to develop their people to be more like that, as well. So, when I think about the teams that I've led in the corporate world — for me — training was imperative. You had to have it, as much as possible,” Jon said, switching hats from Pastor to Manager. “As many times as I could offer opportunities that would train my people, that would bring them together in team-building… the more I had those opportunities, the more I would take them. Something like 6 Stones, where you could bring a team of individuals in to do a home or to go take over a station at the Run for Hope or take over a station at the back-to-school drive, the more opportunities that they have to serve together, the more they grow together. The more united they grow. That's very valuable when it comes to developing a team within a business.”
That's what we're about at 6 Stones. Providing people from all sectors with the space to better themselves; to learn, unite and contribute. Whatever their reason for coming, we believe that everyone is a valuable addition to the coalition. We also believe that everyone walks away healthier and more whole for being part of the work we facilitate. What this world needs, more than anything, is perspective. If there's an Absolute Truth or Core Reality out there, waiting to be discovered, we shouldn't be afraid to seek after it together. Joining with such a varied group of organizations to meet the needs of an equally varied group of people will invariably teach us some new and beautiful aspect of creation. Learning together is the best way to learn.
“You know, what I've found out in my own experience with 6 Stones and serving is that, man, we all have times in our life where there is significant need. Whatever that looks like. It could be that my house is broken down and, you know what? I'm disabled. Or I've become disabled. Or, you know what? I've lost my job in the last six months and it's just a bad time. I can't find another job… all of these things come into play,” Jon reflected. “We can all, within the matter of a week, fall into the same circumstances of life that the people that we're serving are in. So what better thing for us to do than the be the hands and feet of Christ in our community and reach out to those that are in need, that are struggling? Because we could be there, just like they are there, in a matter of no time.”
That sort of wisdom isn't something that can be taught. It needs to be felt; to envelop a person as they experience it. Jon credits the incredible men and women he's been able to serve for teaching him. It's a lesson we can all benefit from: that life is much more than earning paychecks and making rent, than going to church and doing nice things. It's about interacting, learning and building relationships that last longer than anything we could ever build or buy. By his own accounts, Jon picked up more than a weekend's worth of positive vibes by serving this community. He shared in the joy of revitalization with an elderly couple who had taught music in HEB for years. He worked shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women he'd been sharing his faith with for a long time. He even got to witness that faith bear fruit in others. All the while, he had a sense of the vital truth we all need to hear: that he had something to contribute.
“I think about some of the needs that they have, and I think ‘I can do more than just be a volunteer on a Friday and a Saturday to go and help paint a house.' Man, I can really invest eternally in the lives of these people by just sharing the Truth of who God is in their life and ministering to them in a way that they need. [They communicate that] just by expressing to me the emotional side of what they're living in right now,” he said, later adding, “You've got Trinity High School and L.D. Bell High School that bring their football teams or their baseball teams together and they come and serve at these events. There's a reason they're doing that. They know that the benefit of that is that their team is going to be more unified. They're going to be more on the same page. They're going to serve in the dirt together. And they're going to be stronger as a result.”
The only way to fix the things that have gone wrong in this world is side by side. It will show us things we'd never see alone, exposes us to beauty we'd never know if we kept to ourselves. So let's team up. Let's get stronger together.