August 20 Called Annual Conference Session - business items now posted

The Chapel’s new playground honors life, legacy of student leader

5/2/2022

By Kara Witherow, Editor

Landon Martinez was bright, vibrant, fun.

He loved to serve and give back to the community for which he cared so deeply.

Landon’s Landing, the new playground at The Chapel Midtown in Brunswick, bears his name and honors his life and legacy.

With bold, colorful murals from artist Bongang as a backdrop, the playground invites children to run, play, imagine, and enjoy God’s creation.

Landon would have loved it, said his mom, Nicole Wright.

“Landon loved The Chapel and made many memories there. What an absolute honor to have his memory live on in the hearts of others in such a fun way.”

Martinez was active in The Chapel’s children’s ministry, the Treehouse, and youth program, Thrive, before he died in October 2018 of meningitis at age 12. As a middle-school student, he participated in youth mission trips and retreats and served in the 2- and 3-year-old’s classroom.

The playground is a perfect way to honor his life, said Paige Madden, The Chapel’s Relationships Director.

“Landon was a really giving kid. He had a huge smile,” said Madden, who previously served as the church’s director of children’s ministry. “If there was a new kid in the Treehouse or youth he’d be the first to go up and welcome them and make them feel at home. He was always the kid who noticed others and made them feel comfortable.”

Landon’s Landing was created to make children feel comfortable and at home, too, Madden said. Able to be seen from Georgia State Route 25 – a main thoroughfare in Brunswick – the playground beckons kids and parents to stop and play.

While they’re there, not only do families have fun, but they find encouragement and hope through God’s Word.

“Inside the playground’s suspended tunnel are wooden panels that our current kids decorated with different Bible verses,” Madden said. “1 Timothy 4:12 is written on one, and all of our TLT kids know and memorize it. Landon knew it, too. While we decorated it, we had a chance to talk about Landon, who he was and how he lived his life and why we’re choosing to honor him in this way. Even though he’s not here he’ll be an example to others, like that verse says.”

Not only was Martinez an example to others at church, he lived his life in a way that set him apart elsewhere, his mom said. Always on the go, he was active in 4-H, karate, theater, and the Boys & Girls Club.

“He was the kid who would reach out to the stranger or new kid in the lunchroom; he was a very, very outgoing kid,” Wright said. “He was wise beyond his years especially when it came to talking about the Lord and faith. He was a good kid with a huge heart, and he loved to give back.”

Martinez loved to give back, serving alongside his friends during The Chapel’s youth mission trips, Wright said. Whether painting a house or helping clean up a yard, he served with a huge smile and an infectious laugh.

“One of his favorite things he did at The Chapel was going on the middle school mission trips,” she said. “When I picked him up he was so filled with joy, and he couldn’t wait to tell me everything he did.”

In addition to Landon’s Landing, another way Wright, her friends, and The Chapel congregation share Landon’s love of Christ and passion for service is by celebrating his birthday serving others. Fittingly, Landon’s birthday, Feb. 17, is also Random Acts of Kindness Day, and last year one of Wright’s friends printed small cards with his story and ordered green silicone bracelets – Landon’s favorite color – that read “Love Like Landon” and “Be Kind.”

Wright, her friends, Landon’s friends, and community and Chapel members passed out the cards and bracelets while performing random acts of kindness throughout town. They shared candy bars, helped people unload their groceries, gave out gift cards, and spread kindness and joy all over Brunswick.

“It’s so cool that it falls on his birthday. No other day would fit him more than that,” Wright said. “He was a kind, loving, gentle soul. What better way to celebrate him on his birthday than to do random acts of kindness for people and spread the word about his story and how he loved Jesus?”

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