1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jack Martens is more than a band teacher to 12-, 13-, and 14-year-olds in the inner city of San Francisco. He has also been a minister to over 10,000 students. For more than 33 years he has braved the challenges of less-than-ideal teaching conditions at Ben Franklin Middle School to courageously live out his faith.
Over 50 percent of Martens' students are from broken homes, the same number are on welfare, nearly that number come from families where English is not the first language. To that score add the fact that funding for the arts has been all but cut off in Jack's school district.
"Jack saw something in me that kept me from giving up," recalls former student Aaron Hamilton, 26, who teaches music at a public school in Brooklyn and plays the trumpet at night. "I was taking care of myself when I was at Ben Franklin. My mom and dad were alcohol- and crack-addicted. Jack saw me through those crazy things. He was like a big brother and a father figure."
"I love these kids," admits Martens. "And they love me. In me they can see my love for Jesus Christ."
Although Martens keeps a Bible and other Christian symbols on his desk, it is his interaction with the kids that gives his witness a melody line. He eats lunch with them to help them talk through their problems and stays after school to help with difficult fingerings. Through the mechanics of music he is able to show his students they are capable of something beautiful.
The Apostle Paul is correct in saying that "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
Dear Lord, thank You for Your love. Help our actions today show our faith in You. Help us let others see Your love through our actions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.