• Maryland South Area Team

Reaching our Neighbors

The decision was made. I would make two large casseroles of lasagna for Christmas dinner along with a roast. I wasn't sure who I would be feeding but my desire was to have food available. I knew my children and grandchildren would be coming in for Christmas Day but they always went over to their aunt and uncle and spent the afternoon with many relatives and family friends. Since my divorce in 1989 I had learned that Christmas was what you made of it. Things do not always stay the same. So I went about making my plan and as I thought about who might come to the table two dear friends, Monica and Susan came to mind. I asked them both and they said they would come. I was so happy I had someone to eat lasagna with. But I wasn't satisfied. I knew there were others to invite. I asked the Lord to help me know who they were. I thought of the scripture that directed us to entertain the stranger, to not expect dinner in return, but I still didn't have a thought of who I could invite. The day I went grocery shopping for all of my supplies was a tough physical day. By the time I left the store I was wondering how am I going to get all of these groceries into the house. I asked the Lord for help. I asked him to send his angels. Just about then I got a call from Carol suggesting to me to call my neighbor. What a great idea. So I did call one of them but she was at work and unable to help. She suggested I call my other neighbor so I did. She was available and very willing. I was thrilled. As she was helping me bring groceries in I thought, "I need to ask her if she would like to stay for dinner and share my pizza with me that I had just purchased."  She said yes. As we sat and ate and I thanked her profusely for all of her help, the thought came to my mind "ask her for Christmas dinner." Wow. It's amazing how we go along in our lives and just assume people we know are already set in their activities but she was free and was delighted to be asked for dinner for Christmas. I was thrilled I had one more person to add to my table. This stirred me to call my other neighbor back and invite her but she had to work. How sad that people are called to work on such big days of celebration, especially Christmas! I decided it was time to regroup and ask the Lord if there was anyone else. As the week went on no one came to mind. However what did come to my mind was the thought to pray for my neighbor at dinner. The Lord knows how shy I get about imposing my beliefs on others, but earlier in the year my neighbor, Kathy had taken me to a number of my physical therapy appointments and in our travels I had ended up sharing with her my testimony of how I became a Christian. As a result, I knew that she was already familiar with my strong position on God and Jesus Christ. However I was still anxious about how to broach the subject at dinner. The Lord reminded me of my prayer for Kathy when she shared pizza with me. I had noticed that her hand was trembling. I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit at Christmas dinner to ask Kathy how the trembling was doing in her hand. She said it had lessened but it was still there. I asked her if we could pray again and if it was alright that my other two guests could pray with us. It took a lot of courage to ask. I decided I had to trust the Lord and put aside my fear and any sense of shame I had. Not only did the Lord tell me to pray for my neighbor but as I was wrapping gifts for Christmas I came upon one that He said, "this is for Kathy."  It was a small book with daily readings of words from Jesus. Once again I had to stretch my faith and my trust that the Lord would keep me. When I presented the little gift to Kathy she was thrilled. She opened the book to a random page and read it immediately. Then she said, "this is exactly what I needed. I was thinking about this this morning." Wow! The Lord was totally in charge. I was so happy that I had taken courage and not only invited Kathy and prayed with Kathy but that she had so willingly received the gift. Before the evening was over, my other two guests, Monica and Susan also prayed with Kathy for her physical healing. One of them made sure she understood that we were Christians and that we believed Jesus had died for our sins and that it was through him that we receive salvation and healing. Kathy heard the gospel and received prayer. She nodded her head and agreed with the invitation to accept Jesus. Wow! What an awesome experience. Jesus said, "as you go make disciples." This was truly an "as you go" experience. I share this with you so you too can have the courage to go and do likewise. Love and blessings, Dianne Sothoron Area President