It’s Wed night and there are few moments of quiet before all the activity really fires up tomorrow once Mark Horvath arrives in town on the Road Trip.

Just a few thoughts…

First, regardless of what happens on Friday night, these past few weeks have truly been incredible.  One of the goals in doing this was to bring increased awareness to the issue of homelessness in NW Arkansas.  That goal has solidly been met.

That goal was met by a group of incredibly focused people who knew that it all depended on them to make this happen.  People like Dustin Murphy, Rob Apple, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Katelyn Graves, Mark Michaels, Greg Primm, Josh Arkins, Jennifer Arkins, Jon Woodward, Debbie Rambo, Jen Boyle, Joshua Segraves, Angie Albright and my beautiful wife, Corrie.  I know we will have many more to thank after it’s all over as there are a ton of incredible volunteers who will be helping at the event.  It could not happen without them.

Honestly, I’ve never seen a group of people rally around an idea or a cause so quickly as they have over the past month.  What started as a simple idea that escaped into words has literally spread like wildfire.

When Mark Horvath first agreed to make a stop over in NW Arkansas, the initial plans were to invite him to a Cobblestone Project Green Room to share.  Not a bad idea at all, but I think we initially missed the true power of what his stop could mean for us.  It’s not the power of Mark (and he would agree); it’s the power of the message.

The message that all people have dignity and deserve a life to purse the restoration of the image they were created in.

This past month has been a huge encouragement as we have met so many remarkable people that we would not have met otherwise.  I wish we could do this every month…well, maybe every other.  The greatest part is that the greatest stories have yet to be told.  Friday night promises to hold some incredible moments.

So, what if we don’t have 1,287 people come?  Well, that’s out of our hands at this point, and it would be an arrogant assumption to think we ever had control over that in the first place.  Honestly, the 1,287 count is symbolic of the community’s support versus the dedication of the thousands already involved.  People who are already working tirelessly towards solutions.  However, I have confidence and know without a shadow of a doubt that the community cares greatly.  We’re not underestimating anyone.  In fact, we fully expect to be overwhelmed.

Okay, I’ll stop as I could go on for hours.

Second, the 1,287 event is just that an “event.”  The real work has been going on for some time, and it will only continue forward with a renewed energy.  Permanent programs are already working and more are coming soon.  Today, right now, there are thousands of people all across NW Arkansas who have given everything to help those in need.  These people are our heroes and we need to listen to them very closely.  

Thank you to all of those already tirelessly working because without your sacrifices the number 1,287 could be 10 times larger.  You have made an incredible difference.  May God continue to bless your work and your lives.  We are just now starting to join you in your work.

…and the last and final point is this.

Our community can never truly be complete while there is even one person among us in need whether that need be without a home, without food or without hope.

If the homeless count in NW Arkansas was 1, we would still be doing this.  Why?  Simply because we must.

We come from a long line of stories about rescue and redemption, and we carry those stories forward today…here and now.

Friday night will not come and pass silently.  It is but a next step.

Join us on Friday and let it be a time with your family and our family coming together to say…

…I stood up and was counted among those who are proving that hope is real and it is alive.