'Extreme Makeover' builds more than a house

January 24, 2011 

Few things get entire communities excited these days -- but the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" has a way of blowing into a neighborhood like a fresh wind.

Rallying people around families in need of proper housing and telling their stories to the world make for a stirring occasion. Honestly, I have a hard time watching episodes of "Extreme Makeover" because I get emotional and my wife likes to look over and see if there are any tears.

Two recent local builds, one in Savannah and the other in Beaufort, have highlighted the power of this production to bring together people from all walks of life to reach out and make heaven on earth a reality for some very deserving people.

We all need a place to call home. The desire for safety and comfort away from trouble is deep-rooted and always has been necessary for us to feel truly human. The hidden reality of the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, in which Adam and Eve made the first family, is that the garden was a safe place. It was not only a place where there was plenty of food and water, but it was a place filled with God's presence, and the love that God had for his creation was stated over and over, "It is good."

Since losing that perfect safety, people have cultivated the earth to rebuild paradise, and success is sometimes fleeting, depending on the times.

People do have a global outlook now more than ever, with access to information in every corner. It is easy to lose oneself in the data, as it is obvious that multitudes of people are not in safe situations and need help.

"How can I do anything to bring hope to the world, when I am such a small person?" we might ask. But outfits such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," and its energetic crew, remind us that a few people with strong vision, lots of energy and the attitude of "We're going to do something good" can actually bring about change in a modern version of an Amish barn-raising.

Ty Pennington hasn't started something new with his show. The needs that his crew addresses have been met by many in the past and in the present. The churches of the world and the good people who have seen the call to "go out" to the world have been building homes, orphanages and lives for centuries, out of pure love for God's diverse people across the globe.

When the cameras leave town and those in the community reflect on what has happened, hopefully they see a symbol of what all our communities are capable of.

With or without a television program, there's still more work to be done.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

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