Last time we defined what we’ve termed, “refrigerator rights” and today I’d like to begin at the beginning and tell you all the AMAZING things God did to develop an incredible community in our neighborhood.
In August of 1999, we left all we knew and loved behind and moved south where we had never been and didn’t know a single soul. We moved into a new development which was still being built, unpacked and settled in and started to try to meet new people and make new friends. We had no idea what we were in store for next! What God did in this neighborhood in just one year truly blew our minds!! We still marvel at all that transpired and what we still get to enjoy 13 years later.
We began by taking a walk every evening in the neighborhood, and if anyone happened to be outside their home at the time, we counted them as fair game and would cross over their lawn to go meet them. We quickly learned that our next-door neighbors were expecting their first child, only she was confined to complete bed rest around the clock and her husband had been eating pizzas from the local pizza parlor just about every night of the week. Since I was used to cooking for four, I decided I would continue to do so and divide our dinner with them. So about 3-4 nights a week, I’d call their house and let them know what we were having for dinner and when it would be ready. This went on for several months, until one day I called the house and Mark never came to collect dinner.
A few weeks later, Mark showed up at our front door to return all our casserole dishes and shared that little Katie had been born prematurely and had died just two days later. Her little lungs just weren’t ready. My heart soared and sunk in a matter of seconds! He then added that they had also been told that they would never be able to try again. It was devastating news! We talked a bit longer and God blessed that conversation and just two weeks later, Mark stopped me again while I was outside to ask me if John and I would lead a Bible study in our neighborhood….We began with three couples plus us in early 2000.
We met every other week and each night they would pray that God would add to our numbers. Finally, one night I asked what we could do to bring others to our study. The answers were: make a directory, have a pot luck, and go door to door and invite others; so, that’s exactly what we did!
Neighborhood Directory: The girls set to work on making a neighborhood directory. We delivered a brief questionnaire we had written to each home asking for names, birth dates, phone numbers, hobbies, employers, and kids’ names and birth dates. We set a date for them to return the information to us. Any forms that didn’t get returned, we went to them and asked the questions. We then complied all the information and made a directory and had a copy made for each home.
Neighborhood Pot Luck: Once the directory was complete we invited the whole neighborhood to a pot luck in our backyard. We were amazed at how receptive everyone was! We had all kinds of help, and I think just about everyone came out on a HOT, sunny day. Everyone was excited to get their new directory. Just before we asked God blessing upon the food, we let everyone know that we were hosting a Bible study every other Tuesday evening and they were welcome to join us. We had one other couple decide to join us that day. Others seemed interested, but there were reasons that prevented them.
Door to Door Invitation: Once the directory was complete, whenever a new couple moved into their new home, two of us would go over together with homemade baked goods and the completed neighborhood directory to welcome them to the neighborhood. We’d let them know a little about their neighbors and our neighborhood and also made sure to add that we had a Bible study going on which they were welcome to join. The study began to grow until we ran out of seats and some always had to sit on the floor!
God began to add to our numbers, for I think most like to know they are welcome. The Lord really surprised us, however, when on a whim we added a Neighbor Helping Neighbor section to the questionnaire. Next week, I’d like to share the over-whelming response we received to the “Neighbor Helping Neighbor” section to our questionnaire and what happened next.
‘Til then, sue