Go Out Into All The World and Share The Gospel (and next door) – Part 2

I know you have been hanging on by your fingernails waiting for my Part 2 on this topic! Oh, you haven’t? Well, here is the link to the first part to catch you up. Go Into All the World – Part 1. Have I mentioned I’m an excellent procrastinator? I can give lessons if you like. I also get sidetracked and think of so many other things to share. But, the good news is….I’m on it today. It’s important you read Part 1 to understand what I’m talking about.

A few years ago as I was opening all the shutters (we have plantation shutters on all of our windows) to welcome in the morning sun and I noticed an ambulance right next door. I got to looking and trying to figure out what was going on. (Gladys Cravatz, from the old show Bewitched) The police were there for a very long time. I thought, “oh, my, this looks serious, I wonder what happened! Should I go and see if I can help in any way?”

The house next door had sold to a couple with a daughter it seemed. I had such good intentions to go over and meet them and get to know them. We would see them walk their dog and I would try to talk to them, but, they never really stopped or seemed interested in visiting. They did seem nice though. We live in a day and time where people don’t like to stop and chat. Even when you see someone in a store that you know and you speak they will speak and keep on going? No time for chit chat. Anyway, back to my story. Needless to say, I did not know this family’s name or anything. Fortunately, I was dressed for the day and it was early morning! Score! I walked over and knocked on the door, the lady of the house came to the door and I told her who I was and that I saw the ambulance and wanted to check to see if there was anything I could do, etc. She then told me……that….her husband had just passed away in the night, in his sleep. My heart sank. I had no idea what to say. I told her I was so sorry and that my husband and I are here whatever she needed. She very graciously thanked me. I walked back to my house feeling horrible! This lady seemed to be alone as her daughter was in college and I didn’t see anyone but the police with her. I felt like a total failure to have never gone over and gotten to know her before now. My heart hurt deeply for her. I worried she didn’t have anyone. I did ask if she had a church and she said no. Oh, yes, I felt even worse!!! I kept an eye on the house and a watch out for her and her daughter. I went over the next day to check on her. She was kind and came out and visited. She was from the north and had plans to move back. She also had a church home there. I was able to pray with her. She and her daughter moved within a couple of weeks. My heart is still heavy over that experience. I was heavily convicted of not knowing my neighbor right next door and a man actually died there and I had no idea who he was. I’m sorry, but, there is no excuse for that!

I put a plan in action. I typed up a letter to my neighbors. Our street is only a couple blocks long. It curves around and we probably have maybe 20 houses. In my letter it basically explained who Jim and I were and a little about us. I also shared that I would like to form a neighborhood contact list for emergencies, etc. I put all of our contact info on it and a form for them to fill out or email me with their info. Then I went to the bakery and bought 20 lemon baby bundt cakes and had each one wrapped oh, so cute! Then one early evening Jim and I went to every door to deliver the cakes and letter. What fun we had meeting each neighbor that answered the door. We have a street with some amazing people and very friendly. We have a neighborhood where everyones garages are in the back….so needless to say, we rarely see anyone unless you are out walking. Rarely do you see kids out playing in the front.

The response was pretty good, I had enough neighbor info to send out to those that were interested in keeping up with one another. The plans are to have a neighborhood get together and even some ladies lunches. Which we had one ladies luncheon so far. There were several homes that didn’t answer the door or respond to the note I left on the door. Which is okay, that’s just the way it is. I was excited as I felt better about meeting our neighbors and getting to know some pretty amazing people. Not to mention the safety of knowing what is going on in our neighborhood and being able to keep up with everyone if needed.

The only negative thing was through the grapevine I heard one lady was upset that we had come by and wanted to get to know her and her family. She even made fun of the lemon bundt cake. Who knew? The funny thing about that was they were the most friendly of all. Maybe now that I think of it, her husband was extremely friendly. She may have just endured. The sad thing is, her husband passed a bit after all of that. Now that I’m writing this, that’s two husbands that have passed that I know of on our short little street. Interesting….

Shortly after this neighbor reach out plan, life got really busy and then the C-O-V hit the world. So guess what I need to do? Yep, I need to get back to my neighborhood project and get some things planned for our neighbors. We even have several new neighbors that we need to meet that have moved in over the past couple of years. And yes, I will do my lemon bundt cakes again even if some think it’s cheesy. I just think they are the cutest things and oh, so good!

I encourage you to get to know your neighbors and if you have certain way of doing that, I would love to hear about it. Do you have get togethers with your neighbors?

The mission field is right outside our door, plus you just might meet a really good friend!

Until next time!

Go Into All The World and Share the Gospel! (and next door) – Part 1

If you’ve been in a strong Bible believing and preaching church, then you have for sure heard a sermon on going out into the world to preach the gospel. We immediately think of missionaries. We may even think of a mission trip to a foreign land. I have heard of some churches who actually do mission trips right in their own country. We can probably take a look at our own city or town and I have a feeling we can find an area of town that we could easily say is a mission field. I find it interesting that we always leave that for someone else, possibly even the government to take care of that area of town and the people in it. It’s possible we know of a mission that permanently serves that area and we may sign up to go serve once in a while or donate money to the mission so they can continue their much needed work.

What do you think of when you read that verse?

I learned an important lesson many years ago when my Jim and I were serving in full time ministry. Jim had just graduated from seminary and we had been serving in a church for several years while he went to school and worked as associate pastor and youth pastor. We had a three year old little girl and expecting a little boy just any day when Jim got a call from a church that wanted him to be their new pastor in a small west Texas town about 8 hours away. We were a bit scared and excited at the same time. We had been ready to go set the world on fire for a couple of years. Not literally, we were just ready for something fresh and new and to do all we could to reach as many people as we could for Christ. After all, that is what God had called him to do and why we left everything we had in the first place so he could get his education at a seminary. Jim was ready to preach and lead a church and I was ready to follow wherever the Lord would lead us.

We moved into the church parsonage which was across town from the church. After we got moved in, we began meeting our neighbors. I can still remember each one of them. I often wonder where they all are now. The house across from us to the left was an elderly couple. Very nice, quiet and stayed to themselves. I remember sitting in their living room a few times visiting with them. The house across the street to the right was a single guy who worked all day, had a hot rod car that he worked on in the afternoon and evening and it was so loud it would wake my kids up from their naps and since I had a 3 year old and a 6 day old when we moved in, he wasn’t my favorite person, but I tried. The house right next door to us on the left was a couple with a little boy a bit older than our 3 year old. They were nice and cordial. A vacant lot was on our left. The house right across the street is the one I want to focus on. They were a young family with two cute little boys. The husband worked all day and she was home during the day and so very busy with those boys. They partied most weekends. They were also Mexican. A fun memory is she always yelled at her boys and called them Mijo. I can still hear her say it in my mind and it makes me smile. Oh, I also learned the art of burying a goat and cooking it underground. They did this on a regular basis along with a big game of volleyball with a million people in their front yard each weekend.

We got to know these neighbors and they were very kind and friendly and especially my new friend right across the street. We would walk together early in the mornings. I invited her to church several times and they declined each time. One time she shared with me that the pastor and wife that lived in the parsonage before us were not friendly at all and had done some things that weren’t very kind. I was embarrassed about that and I apologized for them. Long story short, I had the honor of leading her to Christ. She started coming to church and became our nursery leader and I felt so safe leaving my newborn and 3 year old with her in the nursery. I forgot to mention; this was a very small church and I had the pleasure of being nursery worker, sunday school teacher, children’s choir director, secretary and women’s ministry director. I’m smiling as I write all of this as so many memories. Some happy memories and some really crazy I would have never dreamed memories. I could write a book on that time we served there.

Okay, back to my whole reason of sharing this.

Remember how the pastor before us had treated this family so bad? Well, the ironic thing on it all is that the reason this little church needed a pastor was that previous pastor left to go serve as a missionary in……are you ready? Mexico! I know! That’s what I thought! He had a family directly across the street that more than likely were just like the people he said he was called to go serve in another country. He didn’t give this family the time of day and when he did it wasn’t in a good way. I have always remembered this story since then in the way of our mission field is right out our front door. If I can’t be a witness and care about someone that lives next to me and then I go to another land to share the gospel, I’m not worth a plug nickel….as my mom used to say. If I teach my kids to not care about their neighbor but, yet I send them off to another country for a “mission trip,” what is that all about? I meet young people like that all the time. They could care less about their testimony to others right here and treat others as if they don’t matter, but yet, they get all sorts of accolades because they went on a trip to Mexico or another country. Which, I think it is awesome to go serve at a mission, etc….but, I would think a test would be in the way you care about those right outside your door and in the school building or workplace. Witnessing to family, friends and neighbors has been listed as one of the hardest things to do. I think it’s because they know us better than strangers do. Something to think about. If you are like me…..we have some work to do.

Part 2 will be about reaching our neighbors. Yes, I’m still a work in progress. Please don’t think I’m Miss Neighbor aware of the world….I am still learning and growing in that area. I have failed many times as we have lived in a lot of places. New neighbors move in and out and I have missed many opportunities. It’s work, isn’t it? But, won’t it be fun to try to encourage one another to reach out in our neighborhood?

Until next time,