The Mission Field Across the Hall              by Rebecca Totilo

      After moving to a new city, our family lived temporarily in a drafty, dilapidated tenement house. When police tape appeared across one neighbor's door and loud domestic quarrels from another apartment disturbed our sleep, I cried out, "God, what in the world am I doing in this place!"
     My vision for ministry was focused on going "into all the world," as the Great Commission commanded. But now God showed me that "the world" included my new neighborhood. "Start where you are," He seemed to tell me.
     Our entire family decided to find ways to meet the 20 neighbors in our building. We learned names by reading labels on mailboxes, and we began praying for individuals. When one family had a new baby, I picked up some baby formula on my next trip to the store and gave it to the new mother. On other occasions, we dropped by with baby food.
     We also took advantage of holidays. At Thanksgiving, we passed out tracts, some of them tailored to specific neighbors (the sports enthusiast upstairs or the Creole speakers down the hall). At Christmas, the children delivered candy canes and bookmarks telling the story of Jesus. On Valentine's Day, we secretly delivered cards signed "Love, God." One day, God prompted us to give Bibles to each neighbor. As the day approached for us to move to permanent housing, our family went door to door, gave our neighbors a good-bye gift of McDonald's gift certificates, and told them about our relationship with Jesus Christ. Most listened with genuine curiosity.
     You can start to reach your neighbors, too. Here are some ideas for getting started.                                                                                                                                                                           
     • Begin with one block (or floor or apartment cluster).
     • Pray each night for your neighbors.
     • Take your family on a prayer walk through your neighborhood to claim it for Christ. You may           want to do this weekly. As you walk, you'll get to meet and chat with neighbors.
     • Involve your children, as we did, in delivering tracts and holiday goodies.
     • Ask God to open your eyes to ways to serve your neighbors, such as cooking a pot of soup for someone who is ill. Such small acts can touch people with deep impact.
     • Remember that the goal is relationship. Your neighbors are people worth knowing, not merely projects. When you encounter people, draw them out. Ask about their families, hobbies, jobs, and so on. Invite them into your home. Be the type of person they would want to be around. In time, they may want to spend time with your Savior, too.
Published in the July/August 1999 issue of Discipleship Journal