When we were expecting our first child, we moved into a cute little neighborhood. Close to shopping centers, churches, the YMCA, and the local zoo, we were convinced this was paradise. The Promised Land. Moving from an apartment to a home of our own, we basked in the newness of our house, the neighbors, the lawn to mow. Everything was great . . . until we began looking for neighborhood Christians to befriend.
To our left was a confirmed bachelor . . . and his lady friends. To the right was a couple with bars on their windows, as well as on their hearts and minds; fear drove them away from people. Around the corner there were some Yuppies (young, upwardly mobile people) with young children who were moderately Christian. They had attended church for a while when they were young, but life took over and their relationship with God was rusty at best.
So, as a couple we began to pray: What could we do to bring Christ into our neighborhood? And what followed were some big miracles which seemed to come in the dailyness of life.
First, I befriended the fellow moms in and around our home - in the cul-de-sac across the street, and others nearby. One taught beginner swim lessons in her pool, so we joined for the fun. Another's daughters were similar ages to our children's ages, so they alternated playing at each other's home. The local dentist lived just down the street, so his wife became our friend. We attended baby showers as our families grew. In short, we befriended our neighbors - loving them to Christ.
Then I invited a friend to lead Bible Studies in our home, and asked our neighbors to attend. Soon we had several studies going, and the ladies were asking God into their lives and maturing in Him.
For new neighbors, I would leave notes in their mailboxes, inviting them over. Or I might stop by and welcome them to the neighborhood, asking about their children, their work, and their faith. Invitations to join the Bible Studies followed, and many joined our fellowship in Christ.
We would share prayer requests and watch God's hand at work. As we worked our way through a study on John, one wife shared about her husband's health problem. He had an earache, and she referred to several verses we had just studied on God's healing power. So we prayed and trusted. You see, her husband's job necessitated his having good hearing in both ears. Hoping it wasn't something serious, he went to the doctor who found the top of an ink pen lodged in his ear canal, and was able to remove it without hurt to his ear or drum. Answer to prayer, simple though it was. And his job was safe.
As we were studying the Old Testament book of Ruth, another mother told us she was having trouble conceiving. Her first child had come at great price through infertility treatments, which wasn't an option this time. After reading Ruth 4:13, "And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son," she believed God could enable her to conceive, also. We reminded each other that God loves children and having children is one of His blessings. And we prayed - together and individually. We weren't surprised, when a few months later, she was bubbling with good news. Her doctor was amazed; we were grateful. And she bore a son about eight months later.
Job was not our favorite book to study, but it taught us a lot. When our neighborhood was hit with a series of robberies, we prayed Job 21:9, "Their houses are safe from fear," and trusted the Lord. While the owners were not at home, burglars would break in and steal their jewelry, their other valuables and a pillowcase. Always the same modus operandi. Some became fearful. A few moved out of the neighborhood. But those of us who stayed prayed. We prayed for safety, for discovery, for recovery of the stolen goods.
And then it became personal: our house was hit. One evening we were with friends enjoying dinner and a movie. When we arrived home, apparently we surprised the thief who left the sliding back door wide open in his quick escape. My heart sank as I realized my engagement ring was gone. Silly me, I'd taken it off and forgotten to put it back on. Also missing was an opal ring my father had given me - an Australian opal he had made himself. And it was stolen. My two favorite pieces of jewelry. Gone.
Our neighbors joined in prayer again, this time with more conviction. "God, thank you for keeping us safe - that we weren't at home when they came. Thank you for protecting us. Now, please help us find out who is doing this and, if possible, get our stuff back." Our Bible Studies were going well, and we were growing in numbers and strength. And we were praying.
So, were we surprised when the sheriff's office called to say they might have recovered some of our things? We were taken into a room and asked to describe some of our stolen jewelry. We did, then they brought in some rings, chains, earrings - in a display box. Right there sat my engagement ring. I cried tears of joy because God cared and answered our prayers.
A few weeks later, while visiting my parents, they handed me my prized opal ring. They had found it in the room I had stayed in on my last visit. Another miracle to share with my neighbors.
While all of the families in our neighborhood, and especially those in our Bible studies didn't all join the same church, we all believed in the same God - and loved each other. And now, twenty-some years later, we still hear from our friends, and remember how God brought one neighborhood together through wives who studied His word and chose to believe what they read.
Mark and Kym Wright have moved several times since those early married days - and in each place they share God's love with those around them.