LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
Mobile Camp has been partnering with churches to reach kids in need since 2010 and last year in 2015 we had 6 camps across the state of Iowa. One of those churches was at the Riverside Friends Church in Mason City, Iowa where Paul and Diane Martin serve. A week before their camp was to begin I met with them to discuss the final details and make sure we were all ready to go. At our meeting though the Martins told me that they had a big problem. I was expecting the worst, when they told me that their 15 passenger church van had broken down beyond repair and that they weren’t sure if they were going to be able to go pick up kids for Mobile Camp.
At first, I thought this wasn’t a big deal and although I would be sad that some kids wouldn’t be able to come, we would minister to the kids who were able to make it. What I didn’t realize is that the Martins passion to reach the poor kids of their neighborhood was greater than I had ever seen. They weren’t satisfied with ministering to those who would be dropped off by their parents, they wanted a big van so they could go around their neighborhood and pick up kids, the ones whose parents wouldn’t or couldn’t drive them to the church for Mobile Camp.
Now good running 15 passenger vans aren’t easy to find and the Martins told us the church didn’t have a lot of money to spend on one but there was a van a couple hours away they were going to look at the next evening. We all know that a lot of times vehicles look a lot better in pictures than they do in person and Paul said they would have to come down quite a bit in their price for them to be able to buy it. So we all paused to pray that God would give them wisdom in knowing if this was the van for them. They also asked us (my wife and I) to continue to pray for them especially that next evening. We did and Paul informed us later that although it did need a few things, he felt the van to be reliable and that the sellers were willing to come down to his price, so he bought it. God had provided them with the van they needed.
And although we can learn from how God provides from that part of the story, the true lesson comes from what I seen and heard the first Monday morning of Mobile Camp. See at our meeting the week before camp, the Martins gave me a key to the church and told me to go ahead and go on in and get set up. I thought it a little strange that they wouldn’t be there early, I said OK.
It was on that Monday, I realized then that Paul and Diane Martin didn’t only “talk” about reaching the kids of their community, they had a passion to reach them one that I seen in action. See what I didn’t know, was that in the weeks leading up to Mobile Camp the Martins had gone around their neighborhood asking kids if they would want to come and getting parents to sign their kids up, telling the parents they would be by to pick them and bring them home from camp. So when their van broke down, they knew there were kids who they promised they would pick them up and would be looking forward to coming.
On that Monday morning the first day of Mobile Camp, I saw Paul and Diane show up with a 15 passenger van full of kids. They had gotten up extra early that Monday (and every day that week) to drive around their neighborhood and pick up the kids for camp. I even heard there were times when the kids weren’t up and ready so even Diane went in, got them out of bed and helped them get ready as quickly as possible. All so that they kids could have fun and hear about God’s love at Mobile Camp.
The Martins didn’t have to do that. There wasn’t anything or anyone who said those kids must come to camp. They did it because they love God and they love the people in their neighborhood and their community. They love them so much that you could see their love in their works. The Martins not only lived out Mark 12:30-21 “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” The Martins also lived out James 2:18 “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Their faith and their love was shown through their works.
As I remember that week of camp, I am challenged in my own life and ask myself the question. Do I really love my neighbor as much as I say I do? Do I really care where they spend eternity? If I were to answer yes, what works have I done in the past that would prove that to be true? If I truly love God with ALL my heart, soul, mind and strength and if I love my neighbor as myself, that love should motivate me to do and say something. God’s love for mankind motivated Him so much, that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross so that we could spend eternity with Him.