by Deb Jensen, Immanuel attendee

Five years ago, Pastor Joe did a sermon series about taking the initiative to get to know others with a book titled Just Walk across the Room. He suggested having a cookout in the front yard and seeing how many people would show up.  I was challenged by that and decided instead of just saying “we should get together” I would plan a neighborhood party and put it on the calendar.  I started to pray that my neighbors would come and asked that God would use our family as a bright light for Christ to shine in our little corner of the world,

I made a flyer and hand delivered it to people we had previously just waved at and made small talk with when we were outside doing yard work or shoveling snow. On the flyer, I asked people to bring their own lawn chairs, food to share and their own drinks.  I wanted to get to know people for who they really were, so if they chose to bring alcohol, I gave them the freedom to drink without providing it.   Because I asked each family to bring something, we were able to try new foods and keep the cost low for us. We played Baggo in the front yard and gathered around on our driveway. It was a good start to getting to know each other and gaining trust with the neighbors around us.

The second year we moved the party into our backyard and we had our gathering at night around a fire. I asked everyone to put their chairs in a circle and whoever had the lantern (that way we could see their face) had the floor telling us something about themselves we probably didn’t know. Every year we’ve tried a new kind of sharing game, and it has been fun for even the children to participate. We still meet around a fire.

Since then, I have decided to be the neighbor who makes cookies for any new families that moved in, and I’ve made a point to introduce myself before too much time had passed.  I have baked pear crisp for many of my neighbors in the fall, and I have taken Christmas cookies to some of them. I’ve even made meals for certain neighbors when a family member dies, and I’ve gone to the funerals to show them we care. I have had neighbors call me when there is something going on in the neighborhood, and I’ve been asked to get mail for others or take care of their pets while they are out of town. This year my husband Phil was asked to take care of a neighbor’s yard for the summer and had an opportunity to serve them and also make some extra money.

For a few years now, I have become better friends with one of my neighbors, and we walk regularly together a few times a week in the neighborhood when it is warm outside. I feel like that has been a good opportunity for me to give her a Christian perspective on life as we are two very different people. When I walk in my neighborhood by myself, I pray as I pass the houses for families I now know better and for those I hope to know one day.

The Go Project and Go! Mobile initiatives have challenged me to do more than once-a-year parties. I discovered several of ladies in the neighborhood who like scrapbooking and other crafts, so I am going to host a Craft Night with snacks every-so-often or invite other ladies who might want to take turns to host a night like that for us. I have suggested that Phil could have a Guys Night Out watching a football game or something like that, so we’ll see what he does with that!

Just recently, after my last party, a woman from India in our neighborhood offered to give us an Indian cooking class. Six women gathered in her kitchen and learned how to make a chicken dish. She told me beforehand that she was very excited about it and thanked me for inviting people. She expressed that she would like to teach us more dishes in the future. It was neat to learn more about her culture and different spices they use!

I had five women at my home for a Cookie Exchange last December. They each brought six-dozen cookies with the recipe, and I asked them to come in Christmas attire.  There was a really good prize for the best Christmas outfit, and I asked each woman what kind of Christmas tradition her family had just to get to know them little better.

I have been blessed by getting to know some very nice people I would have never met if I hadn’t taken the first step. This has been a long process, but I continue to ask God to use me for His Kingdom purposes, and I even have a vision to one day host a neighborhood Alpha Course in my home.

I hope this will inspire you to walk across the street and reach out to people around you or in your sphere of influence

If you would like to learn more about Go Mobile, you’re encouraged to attend the Go huddle this Sunday, January 6 at 9 AM in the Youth Room (B111/113)! See you there!

Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in His work of transforming lives. Thank you!

4 thoughts on “Local Outreach: On Being Neighborly

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