This post is a sort of journal--just some thoughts I've been working through. It might be more for me than for anyone else reading it, a means by which to understand and remind myself of truth. But I post in here in case it's helpful for others as well.
This week we have been hosting a Backyard Bible Club in our home for our neighborhood. It's our second year to do this, but this year we did it in conjunction with our church home fellowship group. Let me just tell you, this is the way to go. Our church family has jumped in and done some amazing prep and planning--crafts, snacks, games, testimonies, grilling, etc. We are so thankful for these people who are our local family.
The Club itself has been small. Mostly friends and children of believers, with a couple of neighborhood kids in there as well. I have to keep reminding myself my own children need to hear this message and know the love of the Body. They need to see these friends in our home, devoting their weeknights to spending time with children. They need to know they are loved and their questions are important. They need to be invited to come to Jesus, not to be turned away as if they aren't important.
And I need to know it's no mistake that we are where we are. It's a long road in the suburbs. On our little cul de sac we have neighbors from 3 foreign cultures, as well as diverse spiritual backgrounds. In a garage door culture, it takes a long time to even meet the people living next door, much less to get close enough to call one another "friends."
We have neighbors who won't talk to one another. Years of bad blood and perceived prejudice preceded our arrival here. So when, after 4+ years of living here, the neighbors on either side of us meet each other for the first time, it's huge. The Kingdom of Christ reconciles--us to God, us to one another. This suburban work is long, it takes time, and it is shaking me out of my selfishness and sense of what matters.
One street over, there is a young couple who are loving their neighbors, having them in their homes, hosting Bible studies. A street over from them, another family has the same vision and ministry. What a loving God, to put these people in our neighborhood that we might encourage and support one another. We're in different local churches, but have the same heart, graciously given by our Father.
My husband was telling me what he wants our neighbors to know--that we are here. If they need a job, we'll help. If they need someone to talk to or pray, we're here. In a place where people have worked hard for what they have, stability and safety is everything. My neighbor tells me, "We've worked hard for this stuff--we don't want anyone to take it from us." She worries someone will break in and steal her things.
So we do something very ordinary. We live here. We play here. We hang out and look for chances to just talk with people. And as we pray for our neighbors, God does something amazing. He causes our hearts to love them.
Because my neighbor is right--her things won't last. Someone might steal them. Or they might turn to rust. Or the moths might get them.
But we have the real treasure--the one our neighbors are desperate for, even if they don't realize it yet.
On this topic, I appreciated this post by Michael Criner called "Living on Mission Takes Time."