The journal was soon filled with dozens of different ideas, topics and verses the Lord and I explored together . . . but I had no idea what to do with this list! Maybe, I thought, I was going to have a very holy dog.
Soon I attended a conference sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries called She Speaks. At that conference one of the speakers uttered three words that made my heart race, and as soon as I heard “neighborhood Bible study,” I knew what I was going to do.
I returned home from that conference so excited to get started I could see it all in my head, exactly how it would play out: I would lure my neighbors over with cookies and coffee then spring a Bible study on them!
It was going to be called The Rosewood Cafe because we lived on Rosewood Drive. I opened the same journal and drew a little logo, jotted down what I would say on the invitation and even set the date.
There was only one problem with my plan to start a neighborhood Bible study… I didn’t know my neighbors.
Do you know your neighbors? Only half of us know some or all of our neighbors. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 28% of us do not know ANY of our neighbors! Not knowing my neighbors put me at great risk of disobeying God’s command to love them, and it made it difficult to even anticipate their needs, their joys or their sorrows.
Whether you live in a downtown condo or a country ranch, on a tree-lined lane or a gang-infested street, I know this fact about your neighborhood: Inside every house, women are starving for personal attention, meaningful relationships and real friendships. This is universal among all women, everywhere.
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. Acts 17:26b-27 NIV
Each of us has been purposely placed in our neighborhood to help our seeking and reaching neighbors find God. That annoying neighbor with the long grass? God knew your patience would touch their heart. The godly girlfriend around the corner you haven’t even met yet? He put her there to encourage you. The lonely widow who always wants to talk just a little too long? He gave you the gift of compassion just for her.
It took me far too long to realize that this crazy idea wasn’t about me, my desires, my obedience, my excuses. It was always about Him, and He is all about them. When I finally met my neighbors, I found friendships and fellowship in my own front yard!