As Bonnie Lopez, 15, and Clare Steveson, 15, walked home from Shawnee High School, they watched Laurie Johnson duck inside a broken back door of a house in a middle class neighborhood. “There’s something wrong about Laurie,” said Bonnie.
“You’re not kidding!” Clare said. “You should live two doors down from them like I do. I could tell you stories about her family you wouldn’t EVEN believe!”
That sounded exciting. “Well, come on, start talking!”
“My parents won’t speak to them,” said Clare. “They say they’re ruining our neighborhood. When that Laurie came to our door one day, my mom told her to get off our property and never come back again!”
“Why?” asked Bonnie. “What’s wrong with her and her family?”
“Listen to them sometimes. Even her four-year old brother cusses, curses and swears all the time. They’re dirty, smelly, they steal your stuff and destroy whatever property they get their hands on.”
Bonnie stared at Laurie’s house as if it were haunted and surrounded by demons. She wondered what went on in that place. “Don’t their parents get onto them about their behaviors?”
“Laurie’s doesn’t have a dad. Her mom is a single parent and she’s only 28 years old and divorced. Her mom doesn’t work and she has all kinds of people in and out of that house, especially at night.”
Bonnie thought Clare was pulling her leg. “How could Laurie’s mom be only 28 years old? How old is Laurie? Isn’t she our age? That means her mom must have had her when she was 13 years old! WOW!”
“That’s what I heard,” shrugged Clare.
Bonnie rushed home to tell her mother the news about Laurie and her family. “I know Laurie and her brother have got to be brats,” she said, “but you have to feel sorry for Laurie and her little brother. Mom, what’s going to happen to Laurie and her brother?”
“Good question,” said Bonnie’s mother. “Now if nobody cares for them at home and all they see from neighbors is hate and criticism, what chance do they have?”
“But mom, what would you do if Laurie and their family lived by us?” said Bonnie frowning.
“I hope I would be a little more compassionate. But I know full well that it’s hard to have neighbors who are undisciplined, are out of control and steal from you,” said Bonnie’s mother.
Bonnie’s mother finished drying her hair and looked at the mess in their bathroom. “Is there a job you hate worse than cleaning the bathroom?”
Bonnie made a sour face. “Nope, that’s the worst job I gotta admit.”
“We’re willing to do what God wants as long as the work is easy. But when something is difficult and looks hard, we set it aside for God to handle. It’s sorta like having God do the dirty work like the bathroom and filthy windows.”
“I think you’re right, mom. But what can we do? And if you tried to do anything to help them, would they even listen to us?”
“If Jesus lived next door to Laurie and her family, He would probably drop in not once but often. Do you think? Would He speak kindly to them and not be critical of their lifestyle and habits? Wouldn’t He offer them a ride to church, to buy food or provide child care to take care of the little boy? Wouldn’t Jesus show them the way with kindness, unconditional love, mercy and compassion?” said Bonnie’s mother.
“I’ll bet Jesus would, mom! Being a good neighbor to even the least of our sisters and brothers is one of Jesus’ commands? Right, mom?”
“It is but know that Laurie and her family is going to be a challenge. We will undoubtedly face some rejection on their part, mistrust, perhaps scorn. But if we keep coming back, maybe they can be won over.”
“You’re right mom. Let’s pray for them and start with a visit to their house tomorrow afternoon—a Saturday. Let’s bake a cake and take it over.”
Individuals and even families like Laurie’s are all around us. We all know such individuals. They are looked down upon, often preyed upon by others and excluded by even the best of Christians. For the most part, we are critical of such people. But these are the very people Jesus ate with, healed, hugged and forgave them of their sins. Like us, the Lauries of this world are children of God whom He loves unconditionally. Look around there are Lauries, young and old, boys and girls, women and men of all races and creeds waiting for your kindness, mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love. They are waiting for you and me!
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Oh Stephen, this article speaks right from the heart of God. Yes, we are to pray for them and to help those in need around us and not shut them out and talk about them. God wants us to walk in good works and this is certainly one way we can get started. Bless you, Sharon
Sharon said it so well... this is obviously straight from the heart of God. I pray God moves it around and thousands become convicted to a change of heart by it. Fantastic writing. (Though, we could work out a couple of grammatical errors. Otherwise, perfection!)