A couple of years ago an African American Pastor Friend of mine invited me to his home. He and his wife showed me around their home. They live in a lower income area of North Omaha. The home had a lot of problems including carpet squares covering holes in the floor carpet and broken light fixtures, and broken plumbing fixtures, ceiling fans with one paddle, a couple of cracked and broken windows, lots of heat loss through poor insulated doors and windows, some kitchen cabinet doors hanging by one hinge, and their bedroom was in a very cold basement with one heating vent – on cold tile floor, with no closet for clothes and no bathroom. They have five children at home and were in the process of adopting a young extended family member. They had lived this way for over two years and due to financial constraints, were unable to fix anything, and so they had stopped having people over other then family. They asked me if I could help them.
Keep in mind I am not trained in plumbing or electrical, or skilled in carpentry or any kind of home remodeling, plus my time is extremely limited with traveling ministry. The best I can claim is some landscaping abilities, but that is not what these folks needed.
However, I am blessed at networking skills and I began to network five churches initially to get some preliminary information on what we could possibly get accomplished for maybe $2000 to $5000 that I thought we could raise, along with some volunteer support. As the project continued and other supplies, resources, funds and people were needed, I just kept contacting people, churches and volunteers and almost everything was provided for in very timely ways. Sometimes there were delays due to my traveling schedule, weather or other people’s schedules, but the vast majority of this was accomplished through just merely networking and asking for help all over the Omaha area including Council Bluffs.
As I began to talk to friends and pastors, I discovered an overwhelming desire to help and what started out as a few moments, soon escalated into a great amount of momentum. Sometimes, a church or group would volunteer for something, but then have a conflict, and each time that happened, another group seemed to be waiting in the wings and we would pray, asking God who to ask, and He would lead us to the very group that could help with labor or help fund what we needed. It was amazing for sure.
One of two contractors began to do a variety of tasks, and then more and more people began to volunteer to help and after ten months, this family basically received an extreme makeover, without the help of any major contributions, large businesses such as ABC or Sears – it was very exciting to see this happen over ten months.
Listed below are many of the things that were accomplished:
- New double pane windows were installed on the first floor of the house
- New double core doors were installed at the front and back entrance with new dead bolt locks to replace the former handle locks
- The wall between the living room and small eat in kitchen was eliminated, and an archway was created thus making the eating area much larger.
- The Kitchen was completely gutted, and new cabinets, appliances and light fixtures were added along with a good supply of GFI electrical outlets. A whole new eating counter was created with additional storage cabinets to match the new ones in the Kitchen. A new sink and garbage disposal was installed, along with a new stove, oven, wall mounted microwave to replace the small counter one, and a new dishwasher.
- New ceiling fans were provided for all four bedrooms, the living room, and the den. Each of them also had new light kits included.
- New wood flooring was installed in the dining and kitchen areas – with new tile in the entranceway being installed in that area – this area actually was enlarged as a small separation wall was removed near the front door that created a bottleneck when entering the home. Now the whole area is much more inviting.
- All of the bedrooms, living room and downstairs master bedroom received new carpeting with a nice thick pad.
- Broken plumbing fixtures were replaced
- The steps to the basement were replaced and firmed up significantly, and later carpeted.
- The downstairs master bedroom had a total transformation with a new drop ceiling installed with can lights on dimmer switches. A large walk in closet was installed into a wall that divided the basement. A new master bathroom was created from scratch with sink, toilet and tub shower unit, plus vanity, storage and lighting and fan.
- Very good used furniture was donated for the bedrooms bringing a great upgrade from what they had previously been using.
- New furniture was donated for the living room and den.
- A brand new gas fireplace with a remote was installed with venting to the roof, and then new venting for additional heat to the basement master bedroom. There is a control switch on the heat vent in that room to control the flow of heat to this bedroom that previously was very, very cold.
- The interior of the house was completely painted, as was the exterior of the house.
- The former front cement steps and torn and tattered outdoor carpeting was eliminated and a new deck was added to the front of the house, creating a large outdoor eating area along with a sitting area with a capacity of about 20 people or so. Deck lighting was also installed.
- New landscaping was donated including a variety of shrubs, flowering plants, bark mulch, landscape timbers, and trees were installed. The exterior yard light post was fixed. The large trees in the front and back yard were trimmed to create a nice shady canopy. The rain gutters were cleaned out. New Exterior door entrance lights were installed
- The entire interior electric system was replaced and the former fuses were replaced with new circuit breakers now replacing the old system – this eliminated many of the shocking experiences when turning lights on and off.
Our estimate is that the entire project probably was similar to an extreme make-over without demolishing the house, and with the help of many people, I think we put in about $75,000.00 worth of improvements. God is good and certainly blessed our many efforts that took nearly nine months to complete.
If there is a project in front of you presently or you have an idea to help someone, but you don’t know where to start or how to get going, I would encourage you to pray and ask God for wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 says that Wisdom is the principle thing and that in all your getting, get understanding. I believe that if you pray and begin to download God’s plan, His wisdom will bring you understanding that will enable you to not only start the project but also finish it. Jesus is all about finishing. After all he was a carpenter and when a carpenter finishes a project, it is not just completed, but it shines and glows and looks great. I am confident that God will help you and enable you to get to that point and you will be so happy and glad that you actually stepped out in what seemed like an impossible task, but in the end God gets the glory and you get the hugs.
Lately I realize that God wants to bless us materially, too, not just spiritually. Your testimony affirms that! Fantastic blessings for a family that has struggled too long. I’m sure that there are many more that need assistance – believers and non-believers alike. Every church body should have some sort of benevolence or help fund that goes out into the community to help! Thanks for posting.
hey pray for us, for we (need to ask hubby) if we could do this. Our home is in no carpet, drywall, etc for we did the demolition and ran out of money a couple of years ago…..WOW!
Praise God for answers to peoples prayers in such a magnificent way!
Gorgeous! I love it!
I recently prayed over the stack of donations in my apartment waiting to go to the rez that I couldn’t get moved, and I’m slowly having volunteers emerge. It beats pulling out hair in exasperation.
Such fantastic memories! I was thinking about this pastor about an hour ago! Oddly, I was crouched in the corner of the living room, edge painting a corner. This very project popped into my head & I found myself grinning at how much work was done with so many people involved. It was a faith building project for me and I relish the blessed memories. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
I love the story Jay West. Thank you for sharing. By any chance do you have any pictures of the home before and after? That would be great to see the dramatic difference!
yes I do have pictures but we are in the process of changing computers from one old one to a new one and I did not have those pictures on the computer that I wrote the article on – but I can hopefully add them in later at some point
How encouraging!!! Thanks for sharing.