Magnolia | Texas CCDA conference


Waco, Texas is synonymous with Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper, but as I drive thru the city I see a much different picture than the one painted on HGTV. Waco is an older city with terrible roads that barely handle my rented Ford Focus. It is a city that draws in thousands of people as they anxiously await visiting The Silos and shop all the latest trends at Magnolia.

I arrived early on my first day and was able to visit Magnolia. I have to admit that it is beautiful and full of energy, yet it doesn’t represent the city that it rests in. It actually reflects a vision of hope for a community that is historically very poor and dilapidated. Magnolia is plush with budding vines and farmhouse styled architecture. It is new, shiny, and happy, much like Chip and Joanna. There is a lush garden, trendy food trucks, and a shop full of anxious women. Their husbands sit outside on benches wondering why their wives are going bananas for a $30 candle that smells like fall.


As I drive around there are hints of new businesses and vibrancy as you hear the sounds of construction in the background. There are new shops that imitate the aesthetic of the Gaines and a few promising BBQ restaurants with lingering smells that are drawing my attention as I walk the city. Walking a new city is one of my favorite ways to get to know a city. You notice all the little details that are missed when arriving in a vehicle. I am looking forward to getting to know Waco and her people this week.

I am here for the Texas Christian Community Development Conference. I am truly excited for the what the weeks holds and how the connections will help us in our efforts to best serve in Lawrenceville. The week will offer some great industry leaders, feather ruffling pastors (that is a compliment), and faithful followers of Christ who are longing to see the Kingdom of God come to their communities. I will gather with nonprofit leaders, church members, city developers, educators, and so on as we learn about how to serve our communities.

I notice and observe quickly that Magnolia draws in a crowd of people wanting the life of Magnolia, yet Waco is in need. Just a few blocks there is a group of Christ followers that are committed to serving and developing Waco into a thriving place with thriving people. Mission Waco is just one organization who is practicing the strategy and values of Asset Based Community Development to redevelop Waco. Chip and Joanna are also involved in redeveloping their community through the Magnolia Foundation.

Like I said before, Magnolia is beautiful. It almost looks like Eden in the middle of a broken city. May it represent what is to come for Waco.

Jen Young