That’s what we said when we saw the BBC’s DIY SOS Big Build from Huntingdon. ‘That woman’ is Julie Jones, a single mother with three grown up sons whose best friend was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. But before she died, her husband had a brain haemorrhage and died quite out of the blue. So it was that five young children were left orphans in a very short space of time.
Julie took them into her own family, adopting them rather than fostering, taking her child count from three to eight in one fell swoop. Needless to say that although they were all glad to be together, the house was far too small for anything like a normal family life.
Which is where DIY SOS comes in. Hundreds of people wrote to them putting the case for Julie and her family to be the beneficiary of the Big Build – the special edition for large projects that make a great difference to the groups helped. A small team of experts were joined by a vast array of local tradesmen who were giving freely of their skills and time to make this transformation happen, all in the space of nine days.
The story that gave rise to the build was both incredibly sad and yet inspiring. Out of the deepest tragedy sprang compassion and community, and those involved have had their lives changed for ever.
Watching this as a Christian there were lots of questions and observations that occurred to me.
Why did such awful experiences happen to this one family?
What inspired Julie Jones and her family to show such love and compassion?
The hundreds of people who nominated the family for the BB and gave their skills to help, give a glimpse of the life of the Kingdom of God on earth as in heaven.
The one clashing note, and something that brings only disgrace to our state, is the fact that because the children are adopted rather than fostered, there is no additional financial support, despite the fact that had the children been placed in care they would probably have cost the state tens of thousands of pounds per annum. Surely some of that money could have been given to adapt the house and provide for their needs.
Several times listening to the interviews we were having to fight back the tears. I think that Jesus would be proud of the big heart that Julie has, and it would be hard to find a more deserving cause for the BB.