We hear story after story of people across the nation living out the Gospel among their neighbors. The challenge in telling these stories is to do so in a way that won’t compromise the very growth of the Gospel that we desire. Thus, we’ve introduced Neighbors Anonymous—real stories from real people living out our Calling, with names changed to protect the movement. May this second installment both encourage and inspire you! —Al Engler, Nav Neighbors director
About three years ago, my wife and I started praying that God would lead us to people in our suburban town of 55,000 who are the relational connectors. For the first six months, the way forward seemed pitch black, totally obscure. Then the blackness began to clear and we could see some light. God caused us to stumble upon a website listing many of the neighborhood leaders in our city. These leaders meet together on a monthly basis. I began to attend their meetings as a guest. I also started to pray by name for each person in this group of relational leaders.
At a city-sponsored place-making event, I met several people from my own neighborhood, and we began to meet to see how we could serve as a leadership group in our neighborhood.
We’ve gotten involved in all that we could: the leadership team of an annual festival in town, the first and second annual food drives sponsored by four of the neighborhoods, and delivering welcome packets to new neighbors.
And just like leaven, our involvement spread.
This past summer, we counted 50 “events” that we participated in over a four-month period, everything from neighborhood barbecues to small leadership group meetings, a jazz rehearsal in a neighbor’s garage to an ice cream social for 2,000 people.
And it’s amazing how God is multiplying our natural conversations about the Good News as a result!
One evening while delivering neighborhood welcome packets to fellow neighborhood leaders I’ll call “Karl and Rose,” I was invited in for a drink. We began to talk about portions of their life stories, and they inserted a comment about family members’ antagonism toward God. I commented that my own father had stiff-armed God until three days before he died. Karl wanted to hear what had changed, and I briefly described my father’s and sister’s intertwined journeys to Jesus. The next day, Karl emailed to let me know how compelling those stories were to him.
Since then, we’ve watched ball games at their home and ours, and we’ve also spent time at our neighborhood leadership meetings.
Recently, Karl and Rose were among a group of friends we invited over to watch the video “The Star of Bethlehem,” and we had a great talk afterward. Karl wanted to send a copy of the DVD to his friend. Rose continuously chimed in with her highlights from the video.
While watching a sporting event at their home, Rose observed that during the holidays everyone around them had Christmas lights on but no one interacted. They mentioned visiting cars at neighbors “Charlie and Joan’s” home. This couple are believers and good friends of ours. Rose wondered where Charlie and Joan were going to church these days, so together we pieced together their church-going history. I updated them on the latest. Then they asked me where I go to church. This led us into a great conversation about Spirit life and spiritual community. I’m finding it actually hard to avoid the subject with Karl and Rose.
It is exciting to find ourselves in the middle of this and many other ongoing Good News conversations. We’re so glad to have an opportunity to share the Good News among our neighbors in bite-sized bits!