“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Pastor Shawn Thornton’s mother, Beverly, suffered a traumatic brain injury following a car crash, and yet, it didn’t stop her from reaching out to others and sharing the love of Christ with them.

Shawn explains how his mother’s example shaped his life and taught him how to love others, even in the midst of our own brokenness.

“Growing up in a home that was dramatically affected by her brain injury really shaped in me a pastor’s heart. There were nights I laid in my bed staring at the ceiling tile in my little room and just cry and ask God, why am I in this mess? That was from probably seven or eight years of age through my teen years.”

“At the same time, watching my mom in her brokenness gravitate to people who would be at the church in a wheelchair, or a child that would come in with braces on their legs, or a family that had a child with autism or down syndrome, and she would just talk with them.”

Beverly followed Jesus’ example and often sought to reach those who were marginalized and overlooked.

“Mom could talk to the richest of people or the poorest of people, the most intelligent of people or an adult who might be trapped in the development stage of an eight or nine year old because of some special needs they had.”

“She laughed with them, she loved them, she talked to them, she’d pray with them and that taught me a lot, not only the circumstances I grew up in, but then seeing my mom in her brokenness still trying to serve and love people.”

Shawn expands on the nature of Beverly’s servanthood and desire to share Christ’s love with others.

“My mom and dad kept serving in the church, trying to love other people and do what they could, give to church, go roll up their sleeves, etc. Even in her later years before she passed, my dad and she would go weekly to a nursing home and they’d lead a little service.”

“My dad’s a blue collar worker, he’s not trained to preach or teach, but he would lead the lesson and someone would come along and play the piano and they would just sing with the nursing home folks.  Mom worked and volunteered at various nursing homes over her life.”

“It wasn’t always easy to get her there because she didn’t drive. She’d ride a three-wheeled bike to these places and she get lost. It wasn’t easy for her to do that, but it really was an example to my brother and to me of how even in our own troubles and difficulties, we can reach out and love other people and show them Christ’s love.”

Beverly was a prime example of what it means to follow our command to love others. We, too, can be intentional to demonstrate Christ’s love for others and leave a lasting impact in their lives.

Shawn Thornton serves as senior pastor of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. He is also the Bible-teaching voice heard daily across America on the half-hour radio program “All Things New.” He is author of the book .

Reaching out with the love of Christ