Well, this week and we should have the last of the new furniture delivered. Next week we house sit/dog babysit for my son for a week back in Cary. Then, we’re pretty much finally here.
Um, now what? Where do you do when the start gun finally goes off?
We have made some progress in getting to know people in the area, but now that we are here morning, noon and night, there is so much more time to give to loving people. Here are some of the things we are doing. Please feel free to offer advice or other ideas (please, really).
I found a blog (Beyond Outreach) that gave some practical steps to prayer. Essentially, they suggested “Try something like this with your church and your prayer groups for a month:”
1. When you meet together. Pass out some lined paper and pens to all who are present.
2. Have everyone begin writing down the names of everyone they know personally. This should take a long while and the list should be very long.
3. Ask everyone to go back and put a cross (†) next to the name of everyone they know is a follower of Jesus.
4. Have them put a minus sign (-) next to every name of someone who is not a Christ follower.
5. Have them put a question mark (?) next to the name of anyone that they are not sure about their faith.
6. You may also want to mark on the other side of the name with a check (√) if you know for sure that they know that you are a Christian and know about your relationship with Jesus.
Deb and I are doing this daily, and I’ve been surprised at the number of ways this changes how I’m thinking about other people, and the boldness it gives you in caring for others. Every person has a 3×5 card now, and we make updates/notes as actions and prayer points come up.
We have three lists.
- One, close by people, which includes work (5 minutes away, and many live in nearby apartments) and the apartments here at The Trails. Mostly all not yet believers in Jesus.
- Two, people with whom we make contact wherever. Also, mostly non-believers. These are the store clerks, people at the gas station, people I work with on other projects, neighbors from where we used to live. It was especially helpful to put the check on the left for the names of people who know I am a Christian and that Jesus is very real and central to my days. Now, I am set on making sure everyone on lists 1 & 2 get that check mark.
- Three, Christians we know but no longer meet with regularly–mostly the folks from the church we attended for a couple of years, plus other Christians we’ve known over the years, met recently, or even a few from Twitter (and you know who you are!). Our prayers are a mix of practical needs and spiritual needs.
We are working also on developing a rhythm, doing some of the same things mostly at the same time every day/week. I’m not sure it is so, but I think that makes connecting with people more likely and repetitious. Like going to the gym at the same time and day most of the time (they have an exceptionally nice gym and pool here). Cooking out in front of the apartment units on the same day and time each week. Sitting out on our little patio a couple of nights a week (playing scrabble or cards).
Deb and I are quickly becoming “gramma and grampa” to a bunch of kids here. Deb can’t help herself, she was a mother to her brothers and sisters as a child, a mother to not only her own, but also the neighbors, and a mother to her grandson. Kids connect with her amazingly easy. We taught some of them to play badminton, and they usually chase us down when we go for a walk and join us. It’s kind of funny to be feeling like the pied piper of North Hills. Well, we’re looking forward to getting to know some of their parents through this. But the kids are too cute! Very sweet, eager for attention, full of imagination and wonder.
We’re hoping to have football nights soon with pasta or pizza. We have quite a few single neighbors and couples. Deb is planning some snack nights that are “homey” (rasberry-blueberry tarts, cream cheese cupcakes, etc) and some meals. We have two neighbors coming over for dinner soon. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll try different things like inviting people over for football, or for cards (pinochle, poker, cribbage), games (monopoly, brain freeze, etc), Wii tournaments, and picnics. Picnics have done very well already.
The apartment management (Samantha, very nice, outgoing young lady) has given us permission to use a large, open community room to offer martial arts classes. It won’t be available until late summer. If we do that, we’ll charge something like $10 per family for those living here, to encourage moms and dads to join in with their children. We’ll set a high price on outsiders (typical rates in the area are $80/month up per person), just so that everyone here feels like they are getting too good a deal to pass up.
Communicating the Gospel
Where we have time to get to know people, and they us, I think it is important that we are living the Gospel. Kindness, being open to helping people, being willing to ask help from people, demonstrating that God loves them and desires a relationship with them. Deb and I are asking God to love people through us. To transform our lives. That we might become vessels of love in action. But, we also must share the gospel explicitly, in words as well as works.
Especially with those I am not likely to meet again or frequently, I am more pushy, more motivated to find an opening and share the gospel or spark an interest in spiritual things and ask for a time to get together. But with those who are neighbors and coworkers, I am much more relaxed, more waiting for that opportune topic or time to open up spiritual topics. Not that I shy away, but I don’t try to force an opening.
We have several “Life of Christ” videos. One is six hours and done quite well. We are going through it to break it into 20-30 minute chunks, identifying the associated scriptures, and also looking through the other videos to see if there is a particular scene that we want to include. When we get a few people interested, we will be having a weekly TV based discussion on Jesus Christ.
I’m also wanting to work with people one on one, not just in a larger group setting. In fact, this is my primary focus. I have a year here, maybe two, to develop strong disciples who will serve others. They are my primary objective.
There are several neighboring apartment communities with large Hispanic and Asian populations. To connect with them, I’m just about finished putting together a 5 week “How to Get Along with Americans: Understanding US Culture.”
Well, that’s a quick update. If you want to pray with us, pray especially for:
- Our ongoing transformation
- Co-laborers in the work
- Sharing the Gospel
- Mutual discipleship with new believers