Sometimes when you do an act of service for someone in need, the act itself is the result and reward. At other times, one act breeds another which blossoms into another, and the results are multiplied much more than initially imagined. Below is a heart-warming story about the second scenario.
Back in June, our Sloan Creek campus cooperated with Live.Love.Allen (the equivalent to Plano’s Love Where You Live, which the Legacy campus participates in). The City of Allen informed our church of houses that were under code violation and the reasons why.
Adam Isakson, the project leader, identified four houses that Chase Oaks Sloan Creek was able to provide assistance to throughout the month. One of these homes was owned by Betty, a single working woman, 60ish, who suffers from chronic pneumonia. Although she loves to garden, Betty’s yard had gradually gotten out of control over the years, both from overgrowth and from piles of “stuff.” Because her home doesn’t have a fence around the back yard, the neighbors saw the piles and were increasingly frustrated about it.
On a hot day, Adam and five other people went to work and took about three trailer loads of debris to the dump, then organized the rest of her things. They arranged her patio so she could have seating again, then spent most of their time landscaping the back yard. Betty supervised and helped as much as she was physically able.
Soon after they started working, a next door neighbor woman stopped by and was very interested in what they were doing and who they were. She had been concerned about this house for a while but was unsure how to help. When she learned the group was from Chase Oaks, her eyes got big. She immediately told Adam that she had just started attending Chase Oaks Legacy the week prior and loved it!
Adam told her about the Sloan Creek campus’ involvement with Live.Love.Allen as a way to be involved in our community. Adam said,
“This made a big impression on her, and I know God’s hands were all over this situation. Coincidence, right? As we spoke a bit more, she said she would try to get her husband to come down and give us a hand. He was not interested in going to church with her, and I think she was hoping this would give him a little better perspective.”
After an hour or two, Robert, her husband, did come down with a very nice weed-eater and mower and jumped right in. He was a huge help and stuck around until they were finished. Before the group left, they gathered together and took pictures, which Robert participated in also. Then they circled around to pray for Betty, and Betty joined in, as Robert listened.
As you can see from the pictures, the patio looked dramatically different by project’s end. Betty told the team that the area was once again a place of peace and not frustration.
This would be a cool enough story if it ended there, but a few days later, Robert sent Adam this email:
“Thank you again, to your church and your group, for helping our neighbor. I have wanted to myself, but it was too much for me. I stayed and talked to Betty for a bit after I mowed her yard and blew grass away again. I confessed to her that I have not liked her for quite some time because I felt she flat didn’t care about her house and yard, and it was an eyesore to our block. I apologized to her for judging her, but I just didn’t know she needed help. She was kind to forgive, and I insisted she ask for help when she needs it.
She admitted that it got so bad, she just didn’t know where to start. She also said she has hired a landscape group to come every other week to do her yard. I told her that if she is strapped for cash and needs the $33 dollars once in a while to knock on my door. I will be happy to contribute instead of watching your good work go to waste.
Thank you again. Your group gave me a ‘road in’ to help a neighbor instead of carrying disappointment around. Everyone on our block is grateful to the time and effort you all gave.”
Adam, of course, was moved by the email and heartened to hear of the ongoing relationship and involvement between Betty and the neighbors. Adam said,
“I have been doing these projects for many years, and I have not seen God’s hand move this way before. It was a great reminder of why we get out and get engaged.”
Adam knows there are a lot more Bettys out there. He and his team of workers are motivated to keep up the good work, for the city, the homeowners, the neighbors—and to see God take it where He wants.