We’ve just moved into a new neighbourhood and met a few neighbours. Some of them seem quite friendly and welcoming; others we find a bit inscrutable. How can we build good relationships with them, seeing we are going to live together for sometime to come.
You are wise to start on a good footing. I remember when we first migrated to Perth, I tried to visit most of the neighbours on our street. My mother, who was from Beijing, was good at making dumplings, so a good introductory gift was a bag of dumplings with printed instructions on how to cook them crisply without oil – a unique method using water to boil, steam and fry on a non-stick flat pan.
After 10 years of our moving away, we still meet some of them who remember the dumplings. Once, my mother got talking to a Chinese neighbour at the bus stop and found out she and her family had come from Hong Kong without knowing a single person in Perth. Mom introduced her to us and we invited the family to church – providing them an instant caring community. Eventually they became Christians.
Near our home is a small shopping complex where our church is also located. When we first moved in, we agreed we should pastor our fellow tenants, so we prayer-walked the venue regularly and sprinkled salt as a prophetic act according to what Elisha did to make the bitter water in that area wholesome (2 Kings 2:19-22).
Our member G has a Malaysian food stall in the complex. Every week, Tek (my husband) would study the Bible with him in his restaurant when there is a lull. The other shopkeepers noticed their weekly gathering. One day, M, a boutique owner, remarked, “How come you didn’t come last week? When you don’t have your Bible study here my business goes down!”
She was then told how she can have God’s help by asking for it herself. She gladly received Jesus as her God. Till today, we still pray together regularly for the other shopkeepers.
One day, a lady walked into her shop with a newspaper under her arm. M remarked, “You don’t look very happy.” She replied, “My husband just died. I was checking the obituaries in the newspaper.” M immediately said, “Goldie can pray for you.” From there, I invited her to join our line dancing class. She did and also came to our cell meetings.
My prayer for M is to be discerning to see who she should not only sell clothes to but connect to her Helper. Last week after praying together, she told me, “The coffee shop boss P needs prayer.” She introduced me to him and I ordered a waffle with cream. Tek and I then prayed for his request.
Several times I went to eat a waffle and pray with him. He told me he used to go to church but now he doesn’t read the Bible. I gave him a copy of 1 John, a daily reading with notes which Tek had written. I also invited him to visit our cell group which met in a chicken rice cafe in the neighbourhood.
A week later my cell group member K, the chicken rice cafe owner, recounted to me, “I was early for my morning prayer with you so I dropped into the only coffee shop that was opened. Over a cup of coffee, I told the owner our cell group was meeting at my chicken rice cafe.” So P the coffee shop owner realised that this was the cafe I was talking about where we had our cell meetings.
I pray that he will realise that God is doing something to draw him back to Himself.
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