Together we can

Published 5:33 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

Ethan Decker, a member of the High Street United Methodist youth group, takes out a sack of debris from a home that received repairs through the church. — Submitted Nathan Decker

By Nathan Decker

Quality of life actually begins at home — it’s in your street, around your community.”

– British Politician Charles Kennedy

All at once I felt powerless, overwhelmed, and at the same time I knew something needed to be done.

A few months ago, City Manager Amanda Jarrett contacted me to talk about some homes in Franklin. These were homes that were in disrepair and due to some form of disability, these home owners don’t have what they need to do the urgent repairs and maintenance. Being a mission-minded guy who loves projects, I asked for an address.

What I saw took my breath away. I thought I’d be working on a handicap ramp. When I met Mr. James Evans, he informed me that what really needed work was on the inside and invited me in to see. The ceiling was literally falling in on the kitchen and two bedrooms. We had just had the ‘microburst’ storm and so I asked how it happened. The storm had nothing to do with it. He told me it had been like this for two years. I was shocked. In addition to the ceiling, there were windows busted, base board heaters that were disconnected, and gaps in door where I knew winter’s cold air would come.

Hannah Hasty, a youth volunteer, removes old sheet rock from James Evans’ home.

I knew what God was asking us to do. We had to do something about these homes. Here’s the thing. There are over 200 of them. Two hundred individuals or families whose housing is sub-par in our city. The rational side of me started to think of resource limitations, volunteers who would come at the beginning with passion only to fizzle and depart later. I exhaled, and then I walked around the house and prayed.

I circled the house the same way that Joshua had the Israelites circle Jericho. I prayed that this God-sized mission would have God-sized answers. I prayed Christ would provide. And then I went looking for others to join in what God has placed on my heart. I spoke with my good friends and colleagues Charles Qualls and Anthony Rawlings. I spoke with my congregation and youth group, and an amazing thing happened. Walls came down. Obstacles were overcome. We started this past Sunday on Mr. Evans’ home. We’ll run the race until we finish it. And then we’ll go on to the next one.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Every symphony begins with one note. Every community begins with one connection. We’re looking for partners to work on homes in Franklin because together we can help each other. My music minister, holding a hammer of all things, was talking at the work site about how he was amazed at all the people coming together to help. He compared it to the old days when the whole community would come to do a barn raising. Alone we feel powerless, overwhelmed, and at the same time knowing that we need to do something. Together we can. Together with Jesus Christ we can lift and empower one another. Let’s come together and give Franklin a makeover. We can’t do it alone, but together we can. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Romans 15:5-6