Alumni Events

Love Demands Action

Anna Montgomery June 12, 2013
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TeenPact Leadership Schools, in conjunction with the Jimmy Brazell Foundation, presented the Second Annual Jimmy Brazell Impact Scholarship First Place Award to TeenPact student Sarah Braun from Iowa.


Read her award-winning essay below, written in response to the topic question, “How have you impacted the world or your community through servant-minded, Christ-like love?”



Love. It’s such a simple word for something so deep… such a simple word for something so life changing. It’s defined in the dictionary as – “An intense feeling of deep affection…” and it’s one of the most talked about concepts on the planet. Love is simple. Love is beautiful. But love is completely misunderstood. Real, Christ-like love isn’t like what you see on TV, and it isn’t like what you read about in books…. It’s something deeper, something that demands more than just “feelings of deep affection,” it’s something that demands action.


I didn’t really understand Christ-like love, until I heard about the life of Jimmy Brazell in the August of 2011. Jimmy wasn’t someone whom I had ever met. I had never experienced worship with him, never heard him speak, and never even heard of him until that August… But the impact Jimmy had on my life is one that has forever changed how I love.


When I first read Jimmy’s story, I was amazed at his level of spiritual maturity, being just a couple years older than myself; and I was surprised at the impact he had left on people… but what really floored me, was his view on love. To me, love was something that was special, something that you didn’t share with just anyone, not until you really knew them, anyway… But Jimmy changed that. He made me see love as a beautifully simple way to point others to Christ. Something that while it is special, it shouldn’t be saved up… it should be experienced, shared, and spread like a wild fire.


After reading Jimmy’s story, and re-adjusting my view of love, I began seeking out ways that I could spread love. It started simply at first; going out of my way to get to know new people at church, cultivating deeper relationships with the people I already knew, and working at showing patience with the people who irritated me. Love became something that was easier for me to understand and live out, it got to where I was seeking for ways to show love within my church family, and for a while, that was good. I grew closer to God and closer to the people within my church. But after spending the summer working at a Bible camp, and then getting a job at my local grocery store, I really became convicted about spreading love past the doors to my church and into my community.


Showing love at work was the hardest, because the whole mind-set in a grocery store is to get people in and out as fast and efficiently as you can. At first glance, there really didn’t seem like there was a whole lot of potential to spread love. So for the first few months, I didn’t even try. I only knew the names of a few of my customers, and I referred to the rest by nicknames. I did my job as quickly and efficiently as I could, like the managers expected, and I didn’t really try delving deeper into the lives of the people I interacted with each day. It wasn’t until 3 or 4 months into my job that I realized how wrong I was about a grocery store’s potential for spreading love.


She was a girl not much older than me, yet she had 2 little boys. I had seen her around town and ordered food from her at McDonald’s. She was a regular customer, yet I didn’t even know her name. The day she came through my lane, she had both of her little boys with her. She looked exhausted, and she was still in her work uniform. She never bought very much when she came shopping, and that day was no exception. She was buying the essentials, and a small crate of strawberries. The only reason I remember the strawberries, was because that was the one thing she couldn’t afford. My heart broke for her as she walked out of the store, promising her crying little boys that they would get strawberries next time. I vowed that day, that I would learn her name… that I would learn as many names as I could, and find ways to show love to all of them.


After watching those little boys go without their strawberries, I decided to start keeping my debit card or a couple of dollars in my apron pocket, so that if someone else couldn’t quite afford their groceries, at least I could help them. In some ways, it’s really hard seeing so many people struggle, and knowing that in the long run there isn’t a lot I can do to help… But working here has given me the opportunity to help in a small way, and I’m hoping that that’ll make some difference. I’m blessed, in that my boss doesn’t care how someone’s groceries get paid for, so long as they get paid for… because by doing that, I’ve been able to be a blessing to so many people.


Working in a grocery store, I see my community at its most vulnerable. I see who has to use WIC and Foodstamps, I see who has to buy the almost outdated food because it’s cheaper, I see what people are in need of, and I see so many people struggling to pay for the groceries they’re buying. I work with some customers who are rude, some who have obviously not bathed in a very long time, and some who are impatient. Loving them is so hard, and usually I’m praying the whole time, “Lord, help me to love them like you love them.” It isn’t easy, but God has worked in my heart so much since that day that Jana (that was her name) couldn’t afford her strawberries, and now I have fewer nameless customers and a heart bent towards love and service. I know that I’m not going to change the world by buying groceries for a few people… But at least for them, I’m changing one day.



About the Author

Anna Montgomery

Anna Montgomery (and her crazy sidekick pup, Flynn), happily call the cornfields of Columbus, Indiana home.   She got her start in TeenPact… Read More