The inspiration for the Love thy Neighbor local mission event comes from scripture, Luke 10:25-37. Local Dental Hygienist, Cynthia Bassham wanted to participate in a Christian mission project. Cynthia knows there are plenty of opportunities to travel to third world countries with church groups and serve on a medical or dental team, treating patients in desperate need of dental care. As a Registered Dental Hygienist, any team would welcome Cynthia and her clinical skills. “When dental teams treat patients in third world mission trips, they have to focus on the patients with the most critical needs, that usually means patients in extreme pain, needing extractions” said Cynthia. “I want to use my skills cleaning teeth. Professional dental hygiene treatment is extremely important and that is what I do best.”

Knowing that there are plenty of local people in need of dental treatment, who have no insurance and limited resources, Cynthia asked local Dentists Dr. Melton and Dr. Burkett if they would participate in a local mission day. When they agreed, “Love thy Neighbor” was started. The objective is to create a community wide mission day.

We all have an obligation to take care of people in need. “So why not dedicate one day in our community when everyone demonstrates an act of kindness?” said Bassham. “My challenge to the community is for everyone to take the time to help a neighbor in need. I hope other professional practioners will donate services, but I know absolutely everyone can perform an act of kindness.” It is so simple, but that is what “Love thy Neighbor” is all about, demonstrating God’s love, by caring for others. “You could rake leaves, wash windows, run errands, baby sit, walk a dog, give a ride, bake a cake, fix a tire, wash a car……it is not hard, just demonstrate an act of kindness”  said Bassham.

In order to invite community involvement, generate excitement, and focus on “Love thy Neighbor,” the kick-off evening has been planned, to be followed by the mission day. The kick-off this year includes, music, entertainment, food and activities in Whitlock Park on Aug. 14 from 6-9 pm. Area churches and businesses are working together to coordinate the evening event. Last year 800 hot dogs were served. It is hard to guess how many people attended the kick-off event in 2008. The park was filled and everyone had a great time.

Luke 10:25-37 New Living Translation:
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
   26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
   27 The man answered, “‘you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."”
   28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
   29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
    30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
   31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
   33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
   36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
   37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
   Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”