Episode 265 Transcript (Chris Horvath)

Episode 265 (Chris Horvath)

Podcast Intro: [00:00:01] Being a great father takes a massive amount of courage. Instead of being an amazing leader and a decent dad, I want to be an amazing dad and a decent leader. The oldest dad in the world gave you this assignment, which means you must be ready for it. As a dad, I get on my knees and I fight for my kids. Let us be those dads who stop the generational pass down of trauma. I want encounters with God where He teaches me what to do with my kids. I know I’m going to be an awesome dad because I’m gonna give it my all.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:00:39] Hey, guys. Welcome back to dadAWESOME. My name is Jeff Zaugg and today, episode 265, I have Chris Horvath joining me and we had a conversation in my RV in Fort Myers, Florida. We were in the Harlem Heights neighborhood, and once in a while I actually was not at all planning on dropping this conversation this week. I had another plan, I have kind of a release schedule usually out sometimes as much as 2 to 3 months out. But I, I had a plan for this for this episode, and I’m changing it because I spent the last five days parked in a parking lot in Harlem Heights, Fort Myers, Florida. And this neighborhood is one of the most impacted neighborhoods in all of Fort Myers from the hurricane, five months ago. And this neighborhood is a lower income, an area that the houses are smaller and older. These these houses actually have been some of them third generation owned. These are incredible people who work very hard. And these are people who couldn’t afford flood insurance. And when the storm rolled in, they’re left with a house with many of these homes, water height was 4 to 6 feet high. Most of these homes needed to be completely gutted and there’s not money to rebuild. So now you’re homeless and there’s no there’s not an abundance of housing options. The hotels are price gouging, the apartments are are full, the rental houses are full. So now they’re living with friends or family. It’s a bad, hard situation. And Harlem Heights, there are 314 homes in this neighborhood and Adventures in Missions has shown up and created a base, and Chris and his wife Sarah, and their four kids are running that base. So I got a phone call, with one of my mentors about six weeks ago, and he encouraged us to reroute our travel to come and stay and experience. And this trip for our family was not about all the work that we got done. It was more about parking and being in proximity to an amazing mission. We got to watch Chris and his wife Sarah lead this team. They had a team from all over the country, multiple teams. They had young college students and they had multiple generations. We had dads and sons. We had men and women serving in the neighborhood in incredible ways. People have rallied around this cause, but they are working with the community and working with a couple of local churches to create a system, a plan, a strategy to get people back in their homes. And they’ve been incredibly successful so far in the first five months and they’re sticking with it. They’re committed, I think, through the end of September to just keep going, keep getting people back in their homes. So what I wanted to do is pause this week’s normal episode and have a shorter conversation with Chris. It’s not his whole story, but it’s parts of his story that really apply to all of us. These are ways that we can live on mission. Chris and his wife, they relocated from Minnesota with their four kids, same age as my daughters. They they gave up everything that was secure and established in all the upward trajectory and said, we’re we’re available to serve. And, actually, they did not even know they were going to get relocated to Fort Myers. They decided to be open to serving God before the storm even hit. And there’s an amazing back story. I mean, Chris, his back story, his dad was not involved at all or he saw him every other week just for a moment. It was a bad situation growing up as far as involvement and love from his dad. But then he experienced a massive healing journey where he gave his life to the Lord. He pursued his dad through fishing trips, really rebuilt, and then his dad had cancer and he got to kind of walk out a beautiful journey of his dad now being in heaven. All this is a back story, though, for willingness. It doesn’t make sense on paper for their family to give it all up and to jump in and to serve, but they have. And it’s remarkable. Our family got to walk the neighborhood, and my encouragement to you guys, as you listen, this is only a I think a 17, 18 minute conversation. My my encouragement is think about your kids, no matter what age they are, how can we move their hearts more towards proximity of understanding hurt, understanding pain, understanding that people are in very different, it’s so easy to be insulated and to be like that, this is what we know, but just a tour through the neighborhood of an hour, hour and a half tour. My girls got to walk into a few of these homes, meet some of the amazing neighbors, see people who are serving, get to know, play foursquare with people who are out, you know, doing construction all day and they came back and they played with my girls at night. I mean, it’s amazing what proximity does to helping our hearts understand, man, I want to be someone who serves. So you’re going to hear about Chris and Sarah’s core values as a family. You’re gonna hear about the work that they’re doing, and you guys lean in. Let’s be dads that raise up a generation of kids who serve others, who have hearts for others, who have hearts on mission, who say, I care about the least of these. You’re going to enjoy this conversation. I’m going to jump right in to myself and Chris, a few segments of our longer conversation, kind of brought into the most practical moments that are going to help us learn about being activated to serve others. I think the default is most dads stay in a survival and a, I’m just going to try to get through. So we’re not going to add more challenges intentionally. And this is what it blows me away about your family because we’ve spent two or three days together. Today, right now, we’re sitting in my RV in a parking lot in.

Chris Horvath: [00:06:00] Harlem Heights.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:06:01] Harlem Heights neighborhood in Fort Myers, Florida, that was devastated by the hurricane five months ago. Is it five months yet?

Chris Horvath: [00:06:07] Yup, five months.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:06:08] And you chose to move your family, young family, away from comforts, away from friends, away from leadership position to say we’re going to go into a much more challenging, unknown and never done this before. Living, leading, coordinating a missions base that has hundreds and hundreds of people serving. Getting people back into 314 homes. Like it doesn’t make sense to take a young family and do this. So I just want to paint that as like it doesn’t make sense and we see joy, like my family sees joy in your eyes, in your family and strength, that doesn’t make sense. Like, I feel depleted after two days of being here on this mission base. Like I feel like, how do you handle level of flexibility in these needs and these needs, and how do we and all the challenges that come in? So I just like applaud you guys. But I what I want to do is dig into what got you here so that that trajectory from the conversation with your wife to like we actually uprooted and chose to come. And then how like, advice, wisdom for other dads, on like, no, you can actually do hard things as a family.

Chris Horvath: [00:07:08] So part of what me and Sarah have done, and this is through coaching and people helping us, is we’ve connected our core values, our core values together and our core values as the Horvath’s. And one of those values is we choose joy. Amongst everything, we choose joy. We choose His joy to come through us no matter what’s in front of us.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:07:35] Yeah.

Chris Horvath: [00:07:35] The other is God’s got it. We know deep down in our heart that God’s got it. So no matter what happens, we know that if we give it to the Lord, and if we profess that with our mouth that He is Lord and He has got this, if He has got something simple like drywall or, you know, pulling somebody’s washer and dryer out of their house, That’s that’s what they’re there, oh, that’s what I need today. If those are tangible things we can pray for and make them happen or let God make them happen, I mean, it’s just awesome to know that God’s got it. And we get to do that every day. And the other one is the pace of Peace. We will walk at the pace that His Peace, capital Peace, because when no matter what we do or run into, no matter how chaotic it is, when God is involved and you walk at that pace of Peace, anything can be done. So we intentionally walk at the pace of Peace. And sometimes that pace might be a jog and sometimes it might be a dead out sprint. But if God is right there with his pace of Peace, we can run that sprint and make it. We can make it four months in an RV in the middle of disaster zone, raising a family, because we are surrounded and we are in God’s will for our life.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:09:03] And if I was giving a fatherhood audit for my 48 hours with your family, I have seen all three of those. I have seen you guys trust God, God’s got it. I’ve seen you choose joy and pace of Peace. I haven’t seen any frazzled hustle, worry, stress. Like, I’m sure there’s bits and pieces, but like, that hasn’t been at all what I’ve observed. And I’ve kind of seen you guys and your kids in lots of different moments. So again, I’m cheering for you and I’m like, wanting to learn more. So is there another one? 

Chris Horvath: [00:09:35] One more, last one. This is one that we live by and that this base actually runs off of. This is how we are going to change disaster relief, this is how we are going to change the people we connect with, and this is how we are going to change the relationships that come out of here. And that is the relationship, putting the relationship over the task. If you look at a disaster zone and everything that’s going on, let’s say, today I have 100 things on this plate, okay, and by the miracle and grace of God, I’m able to knock all hundred things off this plate, today. I’m going to look at this plate tomorrow and I’m going to have 130 things on this plate. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:10:23] Gross. Yep.

Chris Horvath: [00:10:24] So if we take that time to put that relationship over the task, because the task is multitude, it’s plenty. It’s always going to be there. It’ll be there tomorrow. If I don’t get to it. It will. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:10:35] Yeah.

Chris Horvath: [00:10:36] But if I take that little time, whether it’s 5 minutes, whether it’s 50 minutes and spend that time in relationship, building their relationships, whether it’s with me and them or them and the Father, those are meaningful relationships that ultimately grow His kingdom. And that is where God is going to set us apart as a family and everything that we touch, including everybody that comes through this base.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:11:01] Yes, the relationship side goes from you to each other, to your kids, to the people you host, like us, to the community members, to just kind of all relationships, first.

Chris Horvath: [00:11:10] Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:11:11] Put them ahead of the task list.

Chris Horvath: [00:11:12] Yeah. And then here at the base, we empower. So when you come to serve, you are already coming with a willing heart. You have already said yes to God’s plan in your heart. Now, when you get here, we are going to empower you to take ownership. So when you come here to do a task and that’s what you’re coming here to do, we are going to allow you to take ownership of that task. And God is going to provide the people that are going to come up in leadership. And what that does is it turns those people that are rising up in leadership and they’re going to be able to own that task that they’re doing while they’re here and through their team, they’re going to build those relationships. And when they go home, they are on fire for the Lord and serving. And it is crazy cool watching all these people come through here and rise up to the occasion. And the follow through is so phenomenal. We are getting people that are serving their third and fourth time because they’re passionate, they’re they’re involved, they’re getting, you know, they’re getting to know the people, this community. It’s not just coming and serving and fixing a house. They’re getting to know somebody’s name, their neighbors name, their their cousin’s name because they live just down the street. And they’re making those connections, those relationships that ultimately growing the kingdom.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:12:33] Wow. So so that’s the present day in the values that are driving. And you had those family values even before you set off to make this? 

Chris Horvath: [00:12:41] Yeah. So that was one of our tasks to come a hold of getting core family values that we can live by and to hold each other accountable.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:12:50] I’d like to go in a little deeper on empowering our kids to do hard things and inviting our kids to be on mission, whether it’s to a neighbor or it’s a trip to Fort Myers to come here with your kids to serve. How would you encourage myself, the other dads, to invite up when it comes to our kids? I mean, I can see your kids playing Foursquare in the way that they engage young adults, playing with 22 year olds out in the parking lot. Like just feels like they’ve been invited up into a different level instead of sit back and watch, be a part.

Chris Horvath: [00:13:20] Okay. So one of the things that we also strive by is we do uncomfortable and uncomfortable for a lot of people can be many, many things, but in a kid’s eyes, uncomfortable is having a communication, with anybody. You know, we feel like one of the things we were told is, hey, your kids are they’re going to be away from their peers, they’re not going to know how to communicate with people or anything. And one of the beauty things, not just here in a disaster zone, but like in an RV park, my kids will walk up to people and have a full conversation. You know, Nora’s a die hard fisher woman. She will strike up a conversation with anybody having fishing about what kind of bait they’re using, what kind of lure they’re using, what kind of line they’re using, how they’re tying their knot. My grandpa used to do it this way. You know, just, she’s into it and she has no problem walking up to anybody. So we do uncomfortable, is easy for our family. You know, we we strive by it, we don’t take it is uncomfortable. And the other thing like with the olders, as they get older, we ask them to take ownership. So, just like with adults, if they take ownership in something, if they take ownership in decorating their room and making it theirs, it’s going to be a lot cleaner than when you decorate their room and you clean it every time for them. If you go in there and you’re like, Oh, your decorations are kind of looking rough, they go and straighten their own stuff up, you know, it’s just about how you approach things. And you start with your older ones, you know? And, and Penelope, we really empower and even like, what we’re doing here, like, we do a lot of spreadsheets and stuff like that, is she can point and click on a computer. You know how meaningful that is to get a nine year nine year old involved in 314 spreadsheets, to be able to click and pull something on there and have it actually be like meaningful work that needs to be done here. And she is fully capable of doing it. They do it all day long. You know, they’re playing games, they’re doing things. It’s it’s how we can blend them into what is already going on. And, you know, even all the homeowners, I got to meet homeowners all the time. You know, I go and meet them, I look at their houses, I pray for them. I do all kinds of things, but my kids are right next to me. The this community probably knows Hazel more than they know me because she goes with Dan, she goes with Monica, she goes with Sarah, she goes with me. I mean, she goes with everybody. And she just loves it, she soaks it all in and they all know her. She’s driving around, they’re like, Hey, Hazel, it’s not Hey Chris, Hey Sarah or, Hey Monica, It’s Hey Hazel and she’s four. And, you know, and it’s right down to the dog. I mean, the dog’s got such an awesome mission story down here. It’s incredible.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:22] I, I think just for a moment to cast like kind of the elevator pitch of this is what you’re doing. We talked about 314 homes and getting people back into their homes in an area of the city that the did not have insurance. Maybe we didn’t even mention that yet. So just give a flyover so people know this is the work that you guys are doing at this place.

Chris Horvath: [00:16:40] Yeah. So we are in the community of Harlem Heights in Fort Myers, Florida. And this community consists of either, currently, the hard working men and women of the Fort Myers Beach area, Sanibel, Captiva Islands area, or the previous workers of the area. This community is a low income community. A lot of them didn’t have insurance, flood insurance especially, and it’s a multigenerational home community. They have lived here before all the craziness, the hubbub, they lived here when they were dirt floors and tin ceilings. Their families grew up in these homes as they were the workers in the fields, the farm fields, the gladiolus fields, the potato fields, the rose fields. And these generational families have chose to stay here. It’s it’s such a beautiful community and there’s so many families here, it’s just it’s a wonderful place. But they were devastated by Hurricane Ian and it was the storm surge. Now, the storm surge, Harlem Heights is four and a half miles from Fort Myers Beach. And at four and a half miles, when the storm surge came in on Fort Myers, it was 18 feet deep and four and a half miles inland, it was still six feet deep. And with the storm surge, that water did not recessed behind it. It was a wall of water that stayed and soaked into everything. So the homes that it came into, it was, you know, lost everything four feet and down all their cabinets, all their bathrooms, everything, sheetrock, just studs.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:18:34] So then they have no place to live and no insurance money to rebuild. They’re displaced, living with family, friends. It sounds like apartments and hotels, there’s it’s a very bad situation for them to get a spot to live. And then and then the money to rebuild and the mold to take care of, so you guys are helping them systematically get back into their homes and then be rebuilt for an affordable price or you’re helping. How does that even work?

Chris Horvath: [00:19:00] So we’ve come in and we’ve actually been in over 168 of these 314 homes, mucking and gutting, and we would have been in more, but a lot of the homeowners jumped on it right away. You know, they’re doers here. They’re shakers. They’re movers and groovers. So they’ve gotten into their own homes, too. And then what we’ve done now, since the majority of that work has been done, is we’ve been trying to help them rebuild. And that’s from anything if it’s just gathering materials or if it’s figuring out what their needs are. So we’ve come alongside the whole community, not just one or two people, we’ve we’ve hugged this whole community with a giant hug like our Father does to us. And we’re holding them and we’re helping them through it. We’re helping them through permits. We’re helping them walk through their material needs. We’re helping them walk through living situations. And then we’re walking through business partners. So our business partners come from all over. We get churches that partner with us. We get local government that partners with us. We get different entities that partner with this, all wanting to give back. And the beauty of what we’ve been able to do is show them how they can give back and make those meaningful relationships amongst the tasks. And we’ve broken it down, so basically you could come in and you could adopt a home. You could see what kind of materials they need on a home. And you could either financially adopt a home or you could financially support a home and send the workers to come do it. And we have that opportunity for anybody to come and serve in this community. And we’ve spent the last four months building relationships. We are parked right in the heart of this community. They all drive by us every day. Within the first month, I gave out my number over 400 times and that’s 314 to the community. And then every single contact that wanted to do something here has gotten my number. My phone rings a lot.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:21:03] It does. I mean, we’re, we just came off right before sitting down to record my family, my four daughters, my wife, we took a walk through the community and the warmth, the level of just love and gratitude, but also strength that I felt from this community is is beautiful. I mean, the church partnered, the community. I mean, it’s certainly not a Adventures in Missions has this figured out, it’s a you together but you guys get to play this beautiful hosting groups and teams. So the dads listening can bring their families down here. They can sign up at Adventures in Missions and and actually come for a week and serve.

Chris Horvath: [00:21:38] Absolutely. And, you know, it’s this is an amazing opportunity to, you know, come alongside somebody during a situation like this. You know, nobody wishes bad upon somebody, but the resiliency that is here is so strong and they have such acknowledgment of the Fathers protection over their lives here and the provision of this is just stuff. And part of what we experienced last year of getting rid of our stuff is in the same caliber of them getting their stuff taken away.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:22:19] It prepared you to have maybe some of the empathy or some of the ability to connect.

Chris Horvath: [00:22:23] To relate. Yeah, because our whole house is is that 43 foot motorhome and anything outside of that old motor home is in ten totes of ours. And that’s all we own on this earth.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:22:35] And we all, I mean, all of us dads need a perspective, closer too, it’s just stuff. Chris, thank you for this conversation and your testimony and your intentionality with your kids. And now here in the community, the way your family has welcomed ours and now the way you’re inviting all these dads listening to come and potentially join and serve or be supportive financially. So we’ll link all, in the show notes, ways to connect, get involved. Thank you so much for listening this week for episode 265 with Chris Horvath. Guys, I want to encourage you. I made a phone call on the drive kind of into Florida a couple of months ago, and that’s that call with an individual who has spoken wisdom into my life. He invited me to come to Fort Myers to be a part of this mission’s base and to learn about what God is doing in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. And that it’s amazing how those phone calls, where you don’t know where a phone call is going to be, when you call someone who just speaks in, brings wisdom to your life, a mentor, a coach. By reaching out with that phone call, by accepting the invitation and rerouting our family, our family has been changed and impacted, and I’m so thankful that we did. It’s amazing how easy it is to just kind of keep going the path that you’re on. But let’s all be open. If this conversation nudged any of you guys to just be like, Hey, what would it look like to go serve as a family? Maybe it’s one day locally, maybe it’s a half a day, maybe it’s just go learn, by a family, if you know another family who serves in their community, maybe you could ask them, Can we come over and learn from you guys? They’re little steps, often little steps, steps of proximity. You move in, move closer to the hurting, those in pain, those you move closer to those who are already activated in and on mission and have a mission, You move closer to them. And it it’s amazing how contagious it is that all of a sudden you find your heart stirred up for serving others. So that’s my encouragement to you guys. Thank you for listening. Thanks for checking out the show notes, dadAWESOME.org/265, is going to be all the show notes and ways to get connected and serve. And even come down to Fort Myers and serve at this mission’s base with Chris and Sarah Horvath. So thanks for listening, guys. Thank you for being dadAWESOME for your kids.