By Martin Willoughby
On August 28, 2012, my brother-in-law, Craig Ivy, had a one-car accident on a county road in rural Madison County. He flew through the windshield of his Toyota truck and a passerby eventually found him lying semiconscious on the side of the road. He was rushed to University of Mississippi Medical Center where for days he battled on the thin line between life and death.
His injuries included broken C5 and C6 vertebrae and a badly damaged spinal cord, which left him essentially paralyzed from the neck down. Craig was very gifted with his hands and could fix almost anything. That gift had allowed him to provide for his wife, Kim, and teenage son. As I have come to find out, quadriplegics are susceptible to many health problems, including bedsores, which Craig has patiently endured. The long, slow recovery from the accident decimated the family’s savings, and they have found themselves struggling simply to survive.
God works in mysterious ways. Craig’s wife, Kim, frequently gets his medical supplies from Polk’s Drugs Store in Brandon. Kimberly Dear, the home health manager at Polk’s, got to know Kim and learned of their situation. She contacted her son’s Boy Scouts leader, Chris Blake, who is part of a group always looking to lend a helping hand to those in need. Blake surveyed the small duplex where the Ivy’s live and realized it was ill equipped for a quadriplegic. He coordinated a group of fellow churchgoers from St. Mark’s Methodist Church to put their faith into action. One of the members actually knew the landlord and received permission to modify the duplex for Craig’s needs.
In a beautiful display of God’s love, these faithful men and women completely remodeled the duplex to accommodate Craig’s disability. For weeks, they would work all day at their regular jobs then come over at night and work until late in the evening at the Ivy’s home. Their spouses would bring over food each night and fellowship with the family.
Upon completion of the project, a large group came over to celebrate Craig’s birthday and dedicate the home to God. A feast was held and God’s love poured out in prayer. The family, which was previously unchurched, is now regularly attending, and church members regularly help out by picking up their teenage son and allowing him to worship with other young men and women of faith in youth activities.
I share this story because I believe it captures the essence of Christian faith. Craig’s family did nothing to deserve the lavish gifts of time, money, and love they received. They will never be able to repay those who toiled late into the evening to improve their home. It was a gift to be joyfully received.
As I think about the men and women who so freely shared God’s love, I am reminded of Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
As we go through our daily lives often dealing with the tyranny of the urgent, it is easy to miss out on opportunities for doing good. While there are many needs to be filled by Christians on mission trips, there are also opportunities to demonstrate God’s grace in love in our everyday lives. I am inspired by the sacrificial love these faithful believers shared with the Ivy family, and I hope to better act on the Holy Spirit’s promptings like these believers did—to do good whenever and wherever I can in the name of Christ.