Missouri Baptists volunteer for ‘Extreme Makeover’
ABC-TV series provides facelift to Camp Barnabas
By Allen Palmeri
September 6, 2005
PURDY – Missouri Baptists swelled the ranks of about 2,000 volunteers descending on Camp Barnabas Aug. 17-24 as part an ABC-TV “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” show centered around the construction of a new home for Paul and Cyndy Teas, the camp’s founders.
“I had done hands-on things with World Changers, so I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t swing a hammer,” said David Stone, pastor of The Church at Finley Crossings, Nixa, a Missouri Baptist church plant launched in 2003 that contributed 20-25 volunteer workers. “They were beginning to dig the foundation and things like that on Friday afternoon (Aug. 19), so they turn those houses around in a quick amount of time and they don’t need me in there swinging a hammer. Our side of things was very behind-the-scenes, but you have to have that stuff to allow the experts to do what they are called to do.”
The Teases were presented with their new home Aug. 24, and the show is scheduled to air sometime this fall in its 7 p.m. CST time slot Sunday evening. The season premiere is set for Sept. 25.
Host Ty Pennington and the “Extreme Makeover” design team join with contractors and volunteer workers to totally rebuild houses in seven days. At Camp Barnabas, a Christian outreach that ministers to children with illnesses and disabilities, the workers built a home, a camp media center and staff house. Additional work included the laying of new water, sewer and electric lines along with building roads.
A group of about 200 volunteers from Southwest Baptist University worked Aug. 23 on improving the landscaping. Granville Watson, head of development for Camp Barnabas and part-time director of special projects at SBU, facilitated the project that involved university students and employees as well as members of First Baptist Church, Lebanon, where he is serving as transitional pastor.
“We kind of teased them that it was the Poison Ivy Patrol,” said Gail Steinert, a volunteer with a Springfield-based cleaning crew that contributed 13 workers on the same day. “They were cleaning up the roadsides and brush—landscape work that was making the place pretty.”
Jana Harrelson, director of alumni services for SBU, said the best part of the project was how it helped train the students to be servant leaders, in the spirit of the university’s mission statement.
One of the “hooks” that pulls viewers into the award-winning reality show is the compressed amount of time it takes to accomplish the work. “Extreme Makeover” means the crew has only one week to complete about four months’ worth of work. Stone got to see just how wacky that can be when he reported for duty around 4 a.m.
“They burned the house down Thursday night, all during the night,” Stone said. “While it was cooling and they were watering it down, they taped the ‘Braveheart’ scene where everybody comes in with their hammers and tools, and they talk to the contractor. So at that point it was kind of a TV set deal, and very quickly they sent us back out to do whatever.”
Stone said contractors focused more on the actual building while volunteers tended to help with accessories. The Finley Crossings volunteer group, which was expanded by several family members, friends and co-workers, helped with things like registration, security, and handing out water bottles and equipment to workers. Steinert’s group mostly cleaned bathrooms, the kitchen, windows and floors.
Describing what goes on at a 24-hour-a-day construction site is daunting. Steinert talked about cleaning while people are still working, then cleaning again. Harrelson was simply stunned by all of the activity.
“It looks like mass chaos, but it’s so organized,” she said.
People like the camp founders, who have chosen to pour money into Camp Barnabas over the years as opposed to maintaining their own house, are identified by the television show design team as “deserving.” The idea is to reward them with a new home that is beyond their imagination—a structure filled with love that is totally outside of their wildest dreams.
“It’s a neat show,” Stone said. “I don’t know if they’re believers, but it just seems like if they’re not, the volunteerism is just really amazing. It’s almost like a movement. It’s just really neat how they help some really deserving folks.”