Have you noticed the new car wash in the neighborhood? It is at the corner of Middlebrook and Lovell. You pay $3.00 to get your car washed and then you get to use the vacuum for free. It is a pretty good deal. The name of the place is J.J.’s Super Shine Car Wash.
I would not have called it to your attention except that I am also wondering if you remember what used to be there. Really, you are perfectly capable of noticing a new business opening up in the community, especially one that is at such a prominent location, and a new building to boot. Do you remember what stood on that property before there was a car wash there?
The Martins used to live there. The home of J.J. and Mary Martin stood on that lot. Mr. Martin has been gone for many years, and I have no idea if the owners of the car wash even knew his name. Mary still lived there when I came to Ball Camp, almost nine years ago. Not long after I came, she moved to Arbor Terrace, as she was no longer able to live alone in the house that she and Martin, as she always called him, shared together. Next door to their house, about where Lovell intersects with Middlebrook, there used to be a store. It was demolished when Lovell Road was moved and the new intersection was built.
You may not remember J.J. Martin or know Mary Martin, but they surely know you — “you” being Ball Camp Baptist Church. They dedicated much of their time, energy and resources to your well being. When the current sanctuary was being built, Ball Camp Baptist Church met in the Martin’s store for Sunday worship. I am not familiar with all the ways that Mr. Martin served the church, but Mary taught Sunday school. She taught Sunday school for many, many years. Ask someone who has been at Ball Camp for a while and there is a pretty good chance that they had Mary for a Sunday school teacher. They may even have a plaster plaque depicting praying hands or with the Lord’s Prayer on it. Mary loved to send the children home with items that they had made. Mary also wrote an award winning history of the church.
Now, instead of the Martins, we have a car wash. For $3.00 we can have clean cars; but who will teach our children, care for them and tell them the stories of our faith that have so shaped our lives. A car wash is all well and good, but I cannot help but feel that we got short-changed in the exchange. How do we replace a couple that, time and again, demonstrated such faithfulness and commitment to their church?
In one sense, we don’t ever replace such people. Their hands have left their own unique prints on the work that God is doing in this place. More to the point, it is not us that do the replacing, but God who does it. In every generation, God raises up people to do and to be what God needs for them to do and to be. God continues to do that with ministry leaders and Bible teachers in our church. We are blessed each week by women and men who regularly and responsibly perform important work for the cause of Christ at Ball Camp Baptist Church. Yet, there are places in our church that still need dedicated and committed people to say yes to God’s call on their lives.
Do you have any sense that God might be calling you to a deeper level of commitment and responsibility? None of us can be somebody else, but each of us can be ourselves. When we give ourselves to God, God has an amazing way of making exceptional things happen. So what is God saying to you? Do you feel any closer to God than you did a year ago? Is your love for God deeper now than it was then?
If you are not satisfied with your answers to these questions, you might consider joining us for our regular time of prayer and worship in the sanctuary on Wednesday nights. God honors commitment and discipline. Such a setting may be just what you need to hear what God wants to say to you. On the other hand, you might hear a clearer word from the Lord if you chose to hang out in the nursery on Sunday mornings during worship time.
For over two hundred years, the Martins and scores like them have heard the call of God in this community of faith, and they have answered with a lifetime of commitment. Now is our time to listen, to respond and to commit.