Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 13, 2009

Work Your Muscles

Just before I left town to spend some time with my family at Christmas, a friend at church told me about a single mom in desperate need of assistance. This single mother of two is a breast cancer survivor who most recently has battled brain cancer and the presence of cancer cells in her spinal cord fluid. “She is not a member of our church,” my friend added. “In fact, she is Catholic.” But, more important, she is a single mom in need of unconditional and practical expressions of love and support at a critical time in her life. Over the course of her illness, her home has fallen into serious disrepair. Throughout her home, lots of major and minor things have conspired together to add to her anxiety about an already uncertain future.

I felt deeply compelled to mobilize one of our Adult Bible Fellowship groups to do a one-day home makeover for this mom and her kids. Our Parents with Teens ABF accepted the challenge and set aside Saturday, January 10 to bless this mom (sadly, she was readmitted to the hospital on January 9). My daughter Gina and I arrived at the church to meet our volunteer army at 7:30 AM — almost the exact moment the cold front blew into Katy. In spite of the cold, almost sixty Parents with Teens class members and their children showed up eager and ready to help. After praying together, our caravan of care-givers traveled the short distance to her home in Spring Branch.

We assembled on the front lawn (ala extreme home makeover) to receive our work assignments. Then, over the course of the next eight hours, we worked shoulder to shoulder to bless a woman we had not personally met but whose story touched our hearts. Every person present joyfully worked with a sense of purpose. Two shared their personal cancer survival stories with me. Neighbors stopped by to thank us. One lady said she would make a contribution to our missions ministry because she was so impressed by what we were doing to help. Others remarked that they could not understand why a boat-load of Baptists would give up a Saturday to help a Catholic lady — with no strings attached.

By the end of the day the transformation was unmistakable. Paint and patches and fixtures and faucets can make a big difference. But, while we worked on the outside, God was at work on the inside. My old friend Paul Haas often wears a t-shirt to our service initiatives that is imprinted with this message: “Work the muscles. Build the heart.” I like that! After leading thousands of Kingsland volunteers to serve others throughout our community over the past three and a half years, I have learned that paint brushes and hammers are powerful tools for personal transformation. God can use a simple thing like a paint brush in your hand to do more than touch up a wall. He can use it to color your heart with compassion and to brighten your own outlook on life.

So, the next time you have an opportunity to serve others — do it. Allow God to use you to bless others with no strings attached. And, please involve your children so that they can learn that the universe does not exist to serve them. The last thing this world needs is another bratty, selfish kid who feels entitled to everything. Children should learn to serve others and to do hard things! Teach them by your example. Joyfully and eagerly serve others and do good things so that God will receive glory (Matthew 5:16). Work your muscles. It will do your heart a lot of good.

• • • • •

PS | Thank you Parents with Teens ABF for blessing this single mom and her children. And, thanks for modeling Christ-like service for your children and the people of the neighborhood. You guys rock! May God be glorified.


  1. When my teen & I showed up to work along with my ABF class, she said “this feels just like our mission trip last summer”
    I said “I’m sure it does. Just remember you don’t have to wait for summer mission trip to roll around – there are opportunities to serve now.”
    This was a great way to spend time w/my teen & teach by example – while blessing someone else.
    Don’t miss the next opportunity – even if it is COLD!!!!

  2. Thank you PWT, Omar, Gina (O’s daughter) and everyone else who had a hand in this mission project. I was raised by a single mom who was widowed at the age of 27, and not one time did a member or deacon from the Baptist church she attends to this day ever offerred a helping hand. Granted, she was too proud to ask for help, but the help should have been offerred.

    By blessing this single mom and her children with your hard work, you blessed me. Andy & I are so proud to be a part of the PWT class and what each one of you stand for. May God bless you as abundantly as you gave on Saturday.

  3. What a blessing it is to be a member of a church that so actively reaches out to those in need! We at Kingsland are so blessed to have a staff that whole heartedly embraces Jesus’ teaching that we need to not just say we love people, but to get out and show it! Thanks Omar for your leadership and Gina for your helpful spirit! And thank you church family for supporting these initiatives!

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