Where is God working in your neighbourhood?

Could it be that when Jesus told us to “love your neighbour”, that he meant for us to literally love our neighbours?

In a world with higher fences, and bigger garages; commuting to work, church and shopping centres… In a world that is isolated and dislocated… In a world that is medicated by our phones… Could it be that the Church has something to offer?

Where is God Working in your Neighbourhood? - Benj and Mel GouldCould it be that the way to change the world is to change our neighbourhoods, and the way to change our neighbourhoods is simply to love our neighbours? Not to push, or create opportunities, or to throw a bible down someone’s throat, but to simply work out where is God already at work – and stay there.

Where is God working in your neighbourhood?

I met my new best friend when we moved into our neighbourhood 4 months ago. He lives next door and his name is rusty. He’s a blue cattle dog. I got to know Rusty’s owners – Paul & Amanda.

Paul tells me all of his co-workers just lost their jobs because his factory is becoming more automated. He’s grateful he still has his.

Where is God Working in your Neighbourhood? - Benj and Mel GouldAmanda shows me a large scar on her arm. It’s where the cancer of the bone was cut out 2 months earlier. She went into the operation expecting to lose her arm but woke up to find they had taken a bone from her leg to replace the one in her arm.

They said it was a miracle.

So, where is God working in your neighbourhood?

What’s your local. Where are YOU a local? Where are the places that you can become a regular?

There is a café in my neighbourhood called the Glass Onion. A few times a week Benj and I walk there with our trendy re-usable cups and order a small flat white.

As we get to the counter, we are usually greeted by the owner “Hey Benj & Mel, same as usual?” I say yes please, and Benj says “that would be awesome, thanks Kelly.”

Where is God Working in your Neighbourhood? - Benj and Mel GouldAs we walk home, coffee in hand, I turn to Benj and say “You’re so good at remembering names”. He replies “I always write them down. It helps me remember.”

We go places where people know our names by default, but we have the opportunity to know their name by choice.

There is power in remembering a name. Maybe you’re like Benj, to remember a name you have to write it down.

So, where is God working in your neighbourhood?

I have a map on my wall. Every week or so I get excited because I get my highlighter out, and mark off another street. I set myself a goal to prayerfully walk every street of my suburb.

Where is God Working in your Neighbourhood? - Benj and Mel GouldJeremiah 29:7 says “Seek the shalom (peace/wholeness) of your city. Pray for it, because it’s welfare determines your welfare.”

So, I walk. And I pray with eyes wide open. And I pray that God would restore shalom in every house I walk past.

I experienced the power this practice held on my own life in Erina Heights where we used to live. We had lived in the same house for 5 years, and to be honest, I didn’t care much about my neighbourhood.

But I started this practice of praying and walking. And as I prayed for the homes that surrounded my own, something changed in me. I became more passionate about where I lived. I cared more about the people who lived near me. And I became more aware of where God was at work in my neighbourhood.

So, where is God working in your neighbourhood?

I’m a hairdresser. I spend hours every day with clients. Sometimes in my house, sometimes in theirs. But every so often I get to be the client.

The other week I found myself in the chair of a salon up the road from where I live. As the lovely hairdresser began creating her form of art on my hair, I noticed something on her hand… a tattoo of a tiny cross.

I thought to myself, should I ask her if she is a Christian? Then I was like, no Mel, that’s a bit forward.

So, I ask her something different. “How did you get into hairdressing?” She began to share her story. One of the things she shared was that she struggles with bad anxiety because of some horrible things she went through when she was younger.

We talk, we talk, I listen, she talks.

Where is God Working in your Neighbourhood? - Benj and Mel GouldThen, out of the blue, the tiny cross tattoo gets brought up. “I used to go to church” she says, “I miss it, but I felt so judged so I haven’t been able to go back.”

I apologise for the experience she had at church and begin to encourage her in who God created her to be. “You are brave, you are incredibly strong, you are creative”. As I did, her posture began to change.

“Hey Mel, what do you do? Do you live around here?”

I just moved here, I’m a hairdresser too. And my husband and I are actually starting a church in this neighbourhood.

The conversation goes on. I thank her for a beautiful job on my hair, I give her a tip, and I walk home.

That night, I get a message on Facebook from the hairdresser.

“Hey Mel, it was nice to meet you today. I would really love to come to your church.”

We talk, we talk, but do we listen and let others talk?

So, where is God working in your neighbourhood?

Being part of loving our neighbours isn’t about trying hard to create opportunities. We don’t push or strive trying to make people disciples. Loving your neighbour is about being open to God’s Spirit. It’s figuring out where God is working, and being present there.

Where is God working in your neighbourhood?

2 thoughts on “Where is God working in your neighbourhood?

    • Thanks Nancy, you’re right. I was challenged when I heard Benj and Mel speak on this at a conference recently. It was a reminder I needed as I think about what it means to follow Jesus in the everyday stuff of life, and I was so happy they could turn it into a post.

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