SUBDIVISION MISSION FIELD
Oak Village is a quiet little subdivision that was carved out of the woods northeast of Atlanta about 15 years ago. Trees that echo the voices of squealing children flank its winding lanes. It’s a nice place to live. Karin and I and our four children moved to Oak Village many months ago fearing that we would be surrounded by Baptists. We like Baptists, we are Baptists, but we were looking for people who didn’t think they were believers.
We hit the jackpot! Our new neighbors came over and introduced themselves, in the fine Southern tradition, and we discovered that most of them were unchurched folks from Baptist, Methodist and Catholic backgrounds. We began praying for them by name each day. After all, it is God who softens hearts, who opens blind eyes and deaf ears.
DOING THINGS TOGETHER
We developed good relationships with them in the first year. We watched their pets, brought in their mail and watered their plants when they were gone. Our kids played together. Our property, located at the corner of two cul-de-sacs, became the neighborhood rallying point for kids on bikes, skateboards and scooters. We got a dog that kids love – a Cocker Spaniel. We showed love to their kids. We raked leaves together, exchanged stories and laughed. When they wanted to help us with the lawn or the deck, we let them. On occasion, we even asked them for their help, and then returned the favor later. We shared fireworks on July 4th, and cookies at Christmas.
If the conversation turned to meaningful things, we would try to transition to spiritual things – that our kids were blessings from the Lord, for instance. They would agree and then start spilling their take on God, religion, church, etc. We have learned that many people have a real spiritual interest, but don’t like “church” – the big group, the impersonal atmosphere, the money grab, and of course, the hypocritical people – we heard all of the typical complaints unbelievers have about churches.
GOALS FOR OUR NEIGHBORS
Our ultimate goal was to present these dear friends to the Lord as those who want to worship Him in Spirit and in truth, and serve Him as equipped servant-leaders. Our mid-range goal was to see them come to Christ. Our short-range goal was to have a non-threatening “explorers” Bible study with them. We didn’t think that they would ever come into a strange house to study the Bible. But they might come into a warm and familiar house to do so.
By David J. Brown, Biblical Ministries Worldwide