Let me tell you about my neighbor…

They say good fences help make good neighbors, so I thought we might need a better fence.
We had this neighbor who kept pretty much to himself although we chatted a few times. But when he would get drunk, it seemed like whatever was bothering him came out in the form of him wanting to take it out on me.
We once chatted through the fence and, as is customary here in Guatemala, I shook his hand and could smell the alcohol on his breath. He gripped my hand really tight and made me feel like he was going to jerk me up against the fence at any moment. Then he proceeded telling me all the things he was upset about.
If there was trash on the land he took care of, it was my fault. If some kids went on the land, it was because of our Bible study. These types of conversations happened several times (although I learned not to always shake hands! ) It even got to the point that he was threatening to shoot kids if they went on that property.
So, I tried to keep things tidy and prevent anything from falling on his side of the fence. We also made a BIG point to keep the kids out of his land to avoid him doing anything rash.
One Sunday at church, I was reminded of my need to love my enemies. Now, I like to think that I don’t have enemies, but my neighbor had sort of slid into that category since I found myself trying to avoid him as much as I could…especially when he had been drinking.
Well, after church, I was thinking about how I needed to reach out to him as a friend and not think of him as my enemy, but as…well…my neighbor who needs to see Jesus in me.
As I drove up to the house that afternoon, there he was…my threaten-to-shoot-the-kids neighbor. I was getting a chance to put my Sunday morning convictions into concrete actions.
You know what? I almost didn’t do it. Then, I decided that I wouldn’t let this moment slip away.
I got the kids safely inside and then went over to chat.
That day he wasn’t drunk. He was…friendly.
In fact he told me that the owner of a neighboring piece of land was selling the property and he (my enemy/neighbor) was hoping that we would buy the property instead of someone else! He actually hoped that we would be his truly, honest-to-goodness, property-owning neighbors in part because he likes what we’re doing with the neighborhood kids through the Bible study!
I was once again impressed with God’s way of doing things! God had changed my heart and my neighbor so much that now he wanted me to have our Bible study next door to him.
Interesting enough, we have been thinking about that very piece of property for more than two years as a great place to expand the work we’re doing with children and to have a more permanent place to live.
So, we’ll see what God does with the land, but I know He’s already done something in me when it comes to being faithful to love my neighbors.

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