I recently spent a week in Haiti with a medical mission team and wrote about that experience here on this blog. I've been on mission trips to Mexico several times, as well as mission trips here in the U.S. over the years. This week, I begun to wonder what the people in need that live right around me might think if they knew this. I wonder if they might say, "What about me? Why do you go to foreign countries or even to other parts of this country when there are people right here who need your help?"
There's a woman who lives just a few doors down from me that is in need. Although I think she's lived there all of the time that I've lived in my house, we've had very little interaction. I'm ashamed to say that we've been neighbors for 25 years and I hardly know her name. She used to walk her dog past my house sometimes but that was years ago and I'm sure that dog is long gone now. The only conversation that I can ever remember having with her was about her bringing her dog down to poop in my yard. Let just say she was less than happy when I pointed out to her that I didn't find it particularly pleasant to clean up.
Her overgrown yard disguises a house in disrepair and a junk car sits parked in her driveway, unmoved for probably 5 or more years. A hand-written "No Trespassing" sign is tacked to her front door. Those who have tried to help her have been met with resistance and she's long been known as our eccentric, reclusive neighbor who refuses help. Just based on what I can see from the outside, I suspect that she's a
hoarder. None of that, however, excuses me from at least offering my help.
In John 5: 1-9, Jesus asked a lame man, "Do you want to be well?" The same is true for any us who have needs. We must first want to be well. My neighbor must first be willing to accept my help. She shouldn't have to ask for it . . . it's my responsibility to offer to help her. But she must be willing to accept my help for me to take that next step.
Today I'm taking the first step. I'm offering my help. What my neighbor does with that offer will be her choice but I'm going to make a sincere effort to minister not only to those who have great need in other parts of this country and abroad, I'm going to do that right here at home, as well.
What about you? Who are the people right in your own backyard to whom you can minister?