This year marks the second year of our Love Thy Neighbor campaign. Many people in the community were a part of this campaign last year and many people benefitted from the work that was done in 2016, but there are also many who have no idea what Love Thy Neighbor (LTN) is. With that being said I would like to give you some background on LTN: What is LTN and how did it start? What is its purpose? What is being done this year? And how can you be a part?
So what is Love Thy Neighbor? LTN was a brainchild of FBC in Viburnum, Missouri who saw many physical needs in their community and realized they were called and equipped to meet those needs. The first year they raised over $15,000 to re-roof three homes in their community free of cost to the homeowners. The students and adults of FBC Viburnum along with three other churches in their community, spent one week working all day to put on these new roofs and do other minor repairs on homes in their community for people who couldn’t afford to have a company do the work. This year will mark their third year doing this campaign. However, it was not something that was meant to be once a year. LTN was something that they hoped to see flow out of their churches throughout the year as needs arose, and that is exactly what happened. Matthew 22:39 says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is a change in lifestyle and should be something we do day-to-day. As Christians, when we see a need, our desire should be to serve, help, and love our neighbors. When our church saw what was happening in their community, we thought, “Why can’t we do the same?” So last year marked our first LTN in the community of Sullivan and three churches in our community banded together to serve those who had needs. We built a wheelchair ramp, stained decks and fences, cleaned out gutters, repaired roofs, cleaned up brush, trimmed trees, painted, and much more. Over the course of three work days, we worked on over 18 houses in our community for people who couldn’t do the work themselves and who had basic needs.
So what is the point and purpose of LTN? Above and beyond the physical needs that were met, relationships were forged and connections were made. People in our community got to see the love of Jesus on display! Our purpose is to serve and to love. One of the best ways to show that we love people is not simply to tell them but to show them. The church is often times described in the Bible as a body. The human body has many parts and each part plays a different role. The body of Christ is no different. We each have different skills, talents, and abilities and we are meant to all work together. What better way to show our unity in Christ than to get out into a lost world and display the love of Jesus through service! So yes, we seek to meet the physical needs of those in our community. But more than that, we want them to know the reason we are doing it; to display the love of Christ and be a light in the darkness.
This year, we have changed logistically how we are doing this project. Instead of working for a full week, we are going to spend three Saturdays throughout the summer working: June 10th, July 8th, and August 19th. Each day, projects will be put together and we will meet in the morning for breakfast before we launch out into the community. We will then spend the entire day working to complete all of those projects. We will be doing some demolition projects, building projects, roofing, yard cleanup, painting, staining, gutter maintenance, and much more.
So how can you get involved? All you need to do is let Bradley Perry or the church office know that you are interested in working. There will be project leaders for each group and they will know what to bring and will give leadership to their group for the project day. As a volunteer, you will need to wear work-appropriate clothing such as jeans, closed toed shoes, and a pair of work gloves. Depending on your project you may want to bring some other tools along with you (yard tools, hammer, drill, saw, etc.)
Last year we saw God do some amazing things through the work that was done. Not only was a lot of work accomplished but relationships were built with the homeowners, as well as amongst the group of over 50 people that worked. We hope this year will be no different. No matter what skill level you have, there is a place for you to serve. Jump on board with us this year and let this be the starting point, not the final step. Let this year’s LTN open your eyes to the needs of those around you. In the end, I pray that you would see that this doesn’t have to be something that is scheduled and planned on your calendar, but it is, in fact, something that can happen each day. Join us this year and let’s get to work!