Empty house transformed, ready for new life
By Stephen Stout
There once was an old green house that stood on 27th Street near downtown Omaha, Neb. Many families have lived in this 100-plus year-old house. I never knew most of them, but I did know Barbara and her family.
Barbara was a Christian lady who loved to buy and restore old furniture. She filled the house with this old furniture. And when members of her family who needed a place to stay moved in, the house was really full. One day Barbara passed away, and a year later her family moved out. The old green house sat empty again.
There once was a small congregation that loved the Lord and loved the neighborhood around their church. Faith Bible Church sat just two lots away from the old green house. After Barbara’s family moved out, this small USMB congregation bought the old green house; it was really cheap. But there was no plan for how they might use it.
So the old green house sat empty. One sad day thieves broke in the back door and cut out all the copper pipes. The door was simply boarded up, and the old green house continued to sit vacant. The dust in the house got thicker and thicker as two years went by.
Then one day, newlyweds moved in across the street from the old green house. Paul and Cassie Campfield were full of life, energy and talent. After a while, this young couple approached the little congregation and said, “What are you going to do with the old green house?”
“We are not sure yet,” said the people of Faith Bible Church. “Why?”
The young couple said, “We see value in the old green house, and we would like to help you fix it up.”
The congregation was amazed at the offer. They prayed and began putting a plan together with the help of Good Neighbor Ministries, a local nonprofit birthed out of the church. The old green house was reborn, with the young couple across the street leading the charge.
Out came the kitchen and in came a brand new kitchen. Out came the bathroom and in came a brand new bathroom. Out came the windows and in came brand new windows. Add to the list refinished wood floors, a new furnace, a new air conditioning unit, new plumbing, electrical upgrades, new doors, new paint throughout the house and many loving touch-ups. Gone was the green paint, covered by new gray siding, complete with window wraps. And the big front porch with lots of old windows was opened up, giving a warm invitation to all.
Today we call this bright cheery place full of much potential The Neighborhood Lighthouse. More than 70 volunteers donating 600 hours are responsible for the transformation. Congregations in the Central District Conference and others gave generous donations. At a cost of $30,000, which included very little labor and mostly supplies, The Neighborhood Lighthouse is ready for a new life. Already this summer a Christian couple lived at The Neighborhood Lighthouse while they looked for a home to buy.
What will The Neighborhood Lighthouse’s new life look like? Does the future include a pastor? Outreach worker? Youth leader? Neighborhood connector? We know God has something special.
Stephen Stout is the director of Good Neighbor Ministries, a nonprofit ministry in Omaha, Neb., that works to meet the practical needs of people while sharing the gospel. Stout is currently serving as interim pastor at Faith Bible Church.
Photo provided by Stephen Stout: Paul and Cassie Campfield (left) and Jane and Stephen Stout (right) stand in front of the transformed "old green house."