Neighbors Anonymous: Entering Homes and Hearts

Here’s the latest in our Neighbors Anonymous series—real stories from real people living out our Calling, with names changed to protect the movement. —Al Engler, Nav Neighbors director

Jesus walked the earth in a specific time, in a specific place, with specific people. As His laborers, we fully believe we are called to show His presence in specific places at specific times so that those around us will know Him. Our specifics are with Nav Neighbors in a southern state.

These words of the apostle Paul inspire us to reach out to our neighbors: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’” (Acts 17:26-28, NIV).

We moved into this neighborhood less than a year ago. Since then, we’ve been asking God to show us where He is at work in our community. We’ve been taking prayer walks and trying doors. We started by making cookies and going door to door on our street— and doors opened. Behind one door, we met a young single mother with two kids who revealed a secret. When I asked how she finds life, she shared that she retreats to her car to drink and smoke pot.

 We keep trying the door to her heart, and it keeps opening. We’ve babysat her kids, brought her groceries when she was sick, celebrated holidays with her, had play dates with the kids, cried together over her aching heart, ate meals together, offered hope, and even told her that we would support her when she thought she was pregnant again. She has begun to come to our door. We are committed to offering a compelling invitation to the Gospel with anyone willing to listen.

We asked God how we could be influencers and servants in our community, and He showed us the HOA. We were elected to the board and the social committee. That door has opened wide to so many opportunities. We organized a community yard sale and a holiday party. Around 150 of our neighbors came to eat donuts, drink coffee, see Santa, and give well over 100 brand new toys to the needy at Christmastime.

People ache for relationships because God has hardwired His people to need relationships. Thus, we’re seeing relational doors open. People are softening.

Direct doors into sharing the Gospel have opened as well. Through serving on the HOA, we have needed to go to people’s homes in order to bring forms, address complaints, and respond to community questions. Being in people’s homes has given us the chance to enter their comfortable worlds. We ask where they are from and we hear their stories about moving to this warm southern climate. We ask what they hoped for by moving.

Interestingly, we’re finding that—by moving into our neighborhood—many people are attempting to leave their pasts behind and hide behind a mask. But the deeper issues chase them. We have the privilege and opportunities to offer the healing of the Gospel to our neighbors. One man said he would gladly share the Gospel message with his wife over dinner later that evening. The Good News is advancing one doorway at a time. We are praying for boldness to be direct and for sensitivity to see where the Spirit is at work. We recently sent out a sign-up to find any interest in a community Bible discussion, and a half-dozen people responded that they want to talk about God’s Word.

Currently, we are praying about a door that has opened to help serve alongside a foster care ministry in our community. We know God longs for our neighbors to seek Him, reach for Him, and find Him; we are eager and excited to help these beloved people seek Him.

Yes, God is at work in our neighborhood—behind those doors—and He is leading us as we continue to knock on each one. What is God doing in your community—and why do you feel that He’s placed you there—at this specific time, in this specific place, with the specific people in your community?