MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - Rick Horner is frequently impressed by one man's acts of goodness and kindness.
"Every time I drive by here, his truck is in that parking lot and he’s mowing or do something for the church,” Rick said.
The helpful man Rick is referring to is longtime Crest Baptist Church member Gary Stevens.
Gary is the kind of volunteer every church would like to have.
“He's the head of our Falls Creek trips,” Rick says.
Falls Creek is a well-known Oklahoma church camp.
“He's paid for kids to go to Falls Creek, not just a few years, but many, many years. He never spends money on himself,” Rick says.
Dozens of church members also sing Gary's praises.
"He cooks every time we have a banquet or a fellowship dinner," says John Colibert. “Gary's got the whole counter filled with food. Every time. No miss, no fail.”
Gary's good work has become an inspiration among his peers.
"On our Wednesday night service just a little bit ago, I said, 'That’s the man I want to emulate. That’s the man I want to be like,'" Pastor Rick Whipple said.
And there’s also Gary`s response to family tragedy.
Gary`s sister was a victim of a violent crime.
"His older sister was murdered down in Texas,” says longtime friend and church member David Baker.
“She had two daughters, and the two daughters basically moved in with the family. Gary put them through school. He put them through college," David said.
For all these reasons and a lot more, Rick nominated Gary for Pay It Forward.
After Kimberly Clift from First Fidelity Bank presented Rick with the $400 Pay it Forward prize, News 4 surprised Gary in the church basement where a lot of people were waiting after the Wednesday night service.
Gary told us he does what he does because, in his words, "It’s the Lord’s will.”
Gary is a man of very few words, believing its more important to walk the walk than talk the talk.
Everyone in the room knows that his Pay it Forward prize money will be going back to the church. Gary said he will use it to send more kids to Falls Creek.
It's a testament to a man who knows the value of establishing the bonds of paying it forward.
"I’ve known hundreds of people over the years who have come to this great church, and I guess I feel like they're all family," Gary said.
Pay It Forward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.