“Go ye into all the world and proclaim the gospel to all creatures” - Mark 16:15
“Jan, can you hand me that last eight?”
Her husband Tom grinned as he nailed the last house number to the frame of the garage. They both took a step back to have a look at the finished product. Their new house was finally finished.
Tom and Jan stood at the end of their driveway arm in arm admiring their new home and dreaming of what the future would hold for them in this neighborhood. Their hearts were filled with joy as they anticipated the arrival of their new neighbors.
Tom and Jan had been praying for the Lord to send ‘just the right people’ to move into each new home on their block. Jan was sure the Lord would send a nice group of Christian women with wonderful, well behaved children that could play with Jan’s little ones while the ladies had tea and a Bible study. Tom imagined a group of guys who would want to start a men’s Bible study- maybe even in the garage while doing a little ‘wrenching’ on his 1967 Chevy. Tom and Jan knew God would answer their prayer for ‘just the right neighbors’.
By the following summer, the new neighbors began to filer in. Tom and Jan would greet each one with a batch of Jan’s homemade cookies as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’. Soon, Tom and Jan became known as the ‘welcoming team’. It wasn’t long before the neighborhood was a close knit community of friends.
Then something happened. Not one thing, more like a series of events that led the neighborhood down a slippery slope of evil and hatred. Tom and Jan were caught off guard to say the least.
One by one the neighborhood was crumbling and it always seemed to end up on Tom and Jan’s doorstep. First there were affairs among neighbors, which naturally led to a lot of gossip, the drinking, and even the frequent visits by the police to the neighborhood. Even though Tom and Jan wanted no part of any of this, it seemed almost daily someone was dragging them in the middle of the drama.
Everyday it seemed was more drama and more problems. Tom and Jan fought feeling of bitterness. This place they had once dreamed of being so lovely and wonderful was now so evil and full of hate. Tom and Jan were at the end of their rope.
One night while sitting by the kitchen table with Jan, Tom put down his latest edition of the ‘neighborhood newsletter’, slid off his glasses and buried his head in his hands.
“This is not what I thought it was going to be, I just don’t understand.”
Jan gently laid her head on Tom’s shoulder.
“I know Tom, I know.”
They sat silent together completely broken hearted.
Then, in a moment, Tom had a revelation. He looked up at Jan with hopeful tears in his eyes.
“Jan, remember when we first moved into this neighborhood and we prayed for God to send just the right neighbors?”
“Yes” Jan said with hesitation but not really following.
“God has sent just the right neighbors. He has sent broken people who need Him. He has sent these people to us so we can show them His love. He has chosen us to be His hands and feet Jan.”
Jan’s eyes lit up. She understood. It all made so much sense to her.
“This neighborhood is our mission field. Our neighbors need to know Jesus. They need His love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. Just like we were lost in our sin and someone told us about God’s love. Oh how we have been missing it!”
Tom and Jan began to feel that same excitement they had once felt in anticipation of what the future held for their neighborhood. They now had a clear vision for their neighbors. They understood their prayer for ‘just the right neighbors’ had indeed been answered.
Tom and Jan began to minister to each and every person in their neighborhood. Everyone knew their house was always open day or night to anyone needing prayer or ministry. It wasn’t long before they were known in the neighborhood as the “prayer team”. Many of the neighbors came to know the grace, forgiveness, and love of God because of the heart of love Tom and Jan had for their neighbors.
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