Being a Neighbor Means Being a Missionary

| January 18, 2016

It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and I was taking the short walk to pick up my kids from school. Parents who walk the same route every day to scoop up their kids walked hurriedly by with their heads down. No hello, not even the customary head nod, just the classic American silent treatment.

Our family was in the throes of grief from the sudden and tragic loss of my mother-in-law. My wife’s closest mentor, a grandma, an anchor in our community, and the best mother-in-law a guy could imagine had been ripped away from us during the joy and frenzy of Thanksgiving. I recognized in my neighbors that day the same pain we were feeling. I saw parents and neighbors who were broken and hurting, isolated, never navigating past the surface with the people around them. They were physically present but emotionally distant. They were half-decent players in the pretending game.

The neighborhood itself reflected this emotional distance.

Front porches were empty; garages were closed. Something was strangely wrong about the whole thing—but also strangely normal. Our neighborhood was lacking neighborliness. Someone needed to introduce connection into the equation.

Missionary Lenses

That day God gave me missionary lenses, and I…

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