God Squad builds sweet dreams
By Chris Schutz, Contributing Writer
A group of teen volunteers in Guymon brought a moment of pure joy to a 5-year-old boy this summer – a chance to jump on his very own bed.
And joy has been rare for Cade and his mother, Anna Drake, who have known more than their share of tragedy and hardship. Since the team from Youth Force-Guymon made repairs at the family’s home, Anna has become gravely ill.
Youth Force is a hands-on United Methodist mission program in Oklahoma. Youths and adult sponsors divide into teams called God Squads and spend an week performing home repairs.
God Squad volunteers in seventh through 12th grades renovated the mobile home where the mother and son live, said Barry Bennett, associate pastor of Victory Memorial UMC in Guymon.
Rev. Bennett visited the trailer before approving it as a God Squad job. It needed new flooring, paint, window repair, and work on the bathroom. "It was a pretty comprehensive project," he said.
For the young volunteers, the proof of lives lived in poverty was an eye-opener.
"The plumbing didn’t work. The house was falling apart. (Yet) it was all they had," Bennett said.
Then the volunteers learned the boy never had a real bed of his own. In the course of clearing out clutter, the teens found a usable wooden bed frame. An idea was born.
Could they get a mattress and bedding and surprise the boy with a bed?
The 10 teens and two adults took up a collection among themselves. A member of Victory UMC found out what was going on and donated more money. Calls were made to stores in town, and a mattress was donated. "Spider-Man" themed bedding, pillows, and some toys were purchased.
"It was an ‘Extreme Makeover’ sort of unveiling," Bennett said. "It was like Christmas morning."
The little boy "smiled and jumped on the bed and just rolled around. His mother just cried and cried."
Cade was "ecstatic," said volunteer Taylor Anderson, 18. He is a freshman at Oklahoma State University, majoring in history. He hopes to go on to seminary.
Bennett, in his sixth year at Victory UMC, was very pleased with the initiative and generosity of the young people from multiple UM churches. "They put their faith in action. I was very pleased and humbled that these kids would think of something adults didn’t think of."
After Anna was hospitalized, members of Victory UMC chose to make further repairs on the home;,following the example of the God Squad.
Cade is with his grandmother while his mom recovers. The church’s goal is to finish the project to welcome Anna home.