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VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 2   |   Release date: October 15th, 2007

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Extreme Home Takeover: Popular ABC Show’s Grief-Stricken Families Flip Houses, Willow Creek Association Nabs New Parsonages

MEBANE, N. C. — It didn’t take long for the Hamrick household to turn tragedy into triumph. Less than two years after the family of four lost their patriarch in a boating accident, mom Debbie and her three boys are sitting pretty, thanks to ABC’s heartwarming Extreme Home Makeover.

The Hamricks sold their remodeled home outside of Greensboro to an up-and-coming Willow Creek church planter, and now enjoy endless summers in Key West, FL.

“When Ty told that driver to move that bus and I saw our new house, I thought, ‘I’m gonna retire off this bad boy,’” Debbie Hamrick said.

Indeed, she did, thanks to Willow Creek Association’s Extreme Home Makeover and Church Plant Pool.

Each week, Pastor Bill Hybels invites potential church planters into his home for a night of fellowship, where participants place their names in a red velvet tithe and offering pouch just before the new episode airs. One name is drawn, and the lucky winner spends the next hour visioneering his church plant with the blessing of knowing his parsonage is getting a remodel right before his eyes.

“This is just awesome,” said church planter Hooper Reese, from his third-story balcony. “Right after the show, I called up my wife and said, ‘Honey, it looks like we’re heading to Mebane.’”

The 24-year-old pastor won the Hamrick house earlier this year and now pastors a thriving church in the quaint southern town.

Reese and Hybels gathered with fellow church planters back in June to watch Ty Pennington and crew transform a two-bedroom ranch house into a sprawling 17-room estate on five acres.

“It’s like, when your name gets drawn, you just thank the Lord and start praying the decorators make it just right,” Reese said. “Especially the gay one. He can get pretty flamboyant with his designs. But at the end of the day, when the cast and crew wept, I wept with them.”

The Hamricks sold the house to Reese for $3.1 million.

Pastor Hybels has camped on the cutting edge of ministry for so long, that such innovative church-planting techniques are par for the course. Sipping some Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill, he nonchalantly said, “After the show, we lay hands on the guys (church planters) and give ‘em a blank check.”

The longtime minister deflects recent criticism from Christian activists who believe Willow Creek exploits the downtrodden for ministerial gain.

“Well, I just think people like the Hamricks have an eternal perspective that, sadly, many of these buzzkill believers don't,” said Hybels. “After all, Jesus said in his Father’s house, there are many mansions.”

The Reeses praise the Lord for travertine.End of story

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