Last week, in a post called “Opportunities to serve“, I mentioned that our family has been spending time Saturday mornings in a government assisted housing neighborhood where one of our friends lives. There is one more story that I would like to tell concerning this.
When we first started going into this neighborhood, we would take bags of produce and speak to people – trying to get to know them. Some of the people were very receptive. Some people seemed more distant and less interested in getting to know us. We did not push ourselves on people.
A friend of mine told me to expect this kind of mixed response. Many groups do service projects in neighborhoods like this. Usually they drop off food or clothes, or do other projects, but they rarely spend time getting to know the people. So, the people in this neighborhood are accustomed to people coming in, doing their thing, then leaving.
Meanwhile, each week we would come into the neighborhood and try to get to know the people. In one family, the single mother seemed distant. She would thank us for the food, but would not talk to us beyond that. To be honest, after a few weeks, I was ready to give up on her.
Soon, we were spending more and more time talking with the people in the neighborhood. Also, some friends were coming with us. So, we were walking around in a large group but not touching more people. About three weeks ago, we decided to split up into smaller groups. Margaret would take some of our friends and some bags of produce to some of the neighbors, while I would go to others with more produce and other friends.
That first week after we split into two groups, Margaret stopped by the house of the single mother who had seemed very distant. This is where things get very interesting. The woman who would not talk to me, started warming up to Margaret. She told Margaret about her family situation, her work situation, and her education situation. She told Margaret about some of the needs that her family has. She has asked Margaret to pray for her and her family.
We often thought this woman was a little rude, because she would talk on the phone when we stopped by her house. Yesterday, Margaret found out that she takes orders over the phone for her job! She wasn’t being rude; she was working!
Yesterday, Margaret also found out that her son needed a few school supplies – nothing major, just a few things. So, Margaret was able to help them out with those supplies.
It would have been so easy for me to give up on this family. Of course, that would have been very arrogant on my part. I would have given up because I wasn’t able to build a relationship with them. And, of course, that assumes that God couldn’t use others – like my wife – to reach out to them.
I thank God that he continues to teach me to rely on him – and not myself and my abilities – and that he continues to teach me about what a great wife I have!