“You don’t always have to search for what God wants you to do. Sometimes, it’s right in front of you.”

Mark Barfield’s Halftime journey began shortly after retiring from RadioShack Corporation. Mark had a desire to create low-income housing opportunities in the Fort Worth area, but his initial housing endeavor resulted in a “false start.” Then, Mark’s new part-time CFO position temporarily turned into a full-time occupation. As a result, Mark “turned his dreamer back off” – until the day he received an email from Cornerstone Assistance Network (CAN)*** about a tragedy involving one of CAN’s employees.

Photo © Halftime Institute

Mark, who admits he is sometimes more analytical than emotional, felt especially moved when he received an email about Linda, a widowed single mother with two daughters whose home was severely damaged in a fire. Linda is a clerk in CAN’s thrift store. Her modest, 100-year-old house had caught fire when a possum chewed through electrical wires in their garage. Linda’s husband was killed 10 years ago, and since then she has worked multiple jobs to raise her two daughters and get them through school.

Family tragedies are a regular occurrence for the clients of CAN, and Mark typically did not get personally involved in individual family needs. But with this particular story, something was different for him.

Mark felt compelled to drive over and see the fire-damaged house. As he pulled up to the burned-out structure, he saw Linda and her two daughters with sponges and buckets of bleach, attempting to scrub the soot off the blackened sheetrock. Upon visiting with Linda, Mark learned that she had been struggling financially and had not been able to pay for property insurance. As a result, the city of Fort Worth planned to demolish the house if Linda could not demonstrate the ability to repair and move back into the house within an extremely short timeframe.

It was apparent to Mark that, barring a miracle, Linda’s house would be razed by the city, which would not only render Linda and her daughters homeless, but make her liable for the cost of the demolition.

In that moment, Mark felt he had to do something. He has seen many critical needs during his years with CAN, and he knew that not every situation can be salvaged. But he knew he could make a difference for this widow and her daughters.

Mark presented the situation to his Sunday School class, and the response was overwhelming. Volunteers cleaned up the house over multiple days, and made donations of cash, clothing, building materials, furniture, and other supplies. They even did the manual labor of gutting the house over several weekends to prepare it for the remodel. One member of Mark’s class was actually a member of Volunteer Christian Builders, a ministry that donates services to build churches in small towns, and this gentleman convinced a few of his friends in the ministry to help rebuild Linda’s home.

The transformation of Linda’s property is truly a miracle. Linda and her daughters are back in their newly-remodeled house, fully furnished with furniture and appliances donated by friends of CAN, Mark’s church, and other church partners. As one CAN team member says, “This is the house God built.” Mark agrees.

So, how has this experience had an impact on Mark’s Halftime journey? Mark shares he’s had a few significant realizations.

First, he says, “At the time, I did not know if I could make a difference in Linda’s situation, but I felt led to try to do what I could. God took that desire to be obedient to help ‘widows and orphans’ and worked a miracle through over 100 different individuals and businesses.

Photo © Halftime Institute

Second, Mark says, “You don’t always have to search for what God wants you to do. Sometimes, it’s right in front of you.” Instead of starting his own separate non-profit or trying to create a new housing division within CAN, he’ll help CAN address the challenges faced by struggling individuals and families in the community.

Third, Mark is committed to simply “remaining available,” so that he can contribute when needs arise. For Mark, “remaining available” extends to others in their Halftime journeys. Because CAN’s services to the community are so varied and comprehensive, Mark wants to introduce other Halftimers to CAN services, to help them determine the key to one or more of their individual passions.

As Mark continues his Halftime journey, he continues to gain clarity about additional gifts and how to use them. His Halftime coach, Rod Stewart, shares,

“Mark is so responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Mark has wonderful gifts of teaching and communication, and he is exploring ways to use those gifts to feed his passions for evangelism and discipleship.”

Our hope is that Mark’s story of responding obediently when he felt God’s prompting (and the amazing testimony of what God has done with that faithfulness) will inspire you as you live out your second half calling.

Where is God prompting you to engage with those who are suffering? How can we help as you explore how to serve and bless others?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff to update us on your journey. If we can serve you through coaching or connecting you to other alumni, please let us know. Email us at alumni@halftime.org.

*** Cornerstone Assistance Network (CAN) is a faith-based ministry in Fort Worth, TX that has partnered with churches for over 25 years to help them minister to individuals and families who are struggling under the burden of poverty. CAN offers direct-service programs that the churches themselves do not or cannot offer, ranging from a thrift store to housing to prison outreach. CAN partners with over 100 churches and 150 local businesses to help meet the needs and restore hope for those less fortunate.

Visit www.canetwork.org to learn more.

Diane McGrath
Diane McGrath’s first half involved a mix of skills training and leadership & talent consulting. She led a corporate training team at a large high-tech organization, then served clients in healthcare, retail and energy, helping leaders and team members reach their potential.

Diane has a passion for learning and helping others to learn and grow. As a volunteer adult literacy teacher, she began to wonder how she could match her talents with her “assignment” and create more significance in her professional life. Several colleagues and friends pointed Diane in the direction of Halftime to help her discover God’s plan for how she could achieve greater impact. After a year of joyous exploration and discovery, she joined HTI as Admissions Manager and Fellows Concierge.

Diane lives in Dallas and has a wonderful son who is a student at Texas Tech. They love to travel and spend time with their family and friends. They are active members and volunteers with their church, Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal.