“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” Mark 16:15.
When Steve attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary back in the late 70’s, we looked forward to visiting family every chance we could. Our main route home was Highway 64 West. I remember clearly as if it were yesterday, my words as we were drove through Siler City on one sunny afternoon, “I never ever want to live here. This town doesn’t appeal to me at all!”
About five years ago while living in Savannah, Georgia, Steve accepted a position as the Associational Missionary in the Randolph Baptist Association in Asheboro. I accepted a position at the Baptist State Convention of NC in Cary.
We finally sold our house in Savannah and had only one week to find a place to live somewhere in the middle of these two cities.
We called to check on a house in Chatham County that was for rent and accidently dialed the wrong number. The lady that answered the phone said she had a house for rent in Siler City but I instantly reminded Steve of the comments I made about not wanting to live in this city. We were desperate to find a place to move our furniture, so we signed a contract and moved within two weeks. We promised each other that we would be out of here within a year, two at tops. Five years have quickly passed and we are still living here.
This small town really doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment and shopping but we do enjoy eating homemade hamburgers from the most famous Johnson’s Drive-In. Aunt Bea of The Andy Griffith Show found it a most delightful place in 1972 moving here all the way from California.
We knew for sure five years ago the Lord must have had a grand and glorious plan mapped out for us. He wouldn’t lead us to a city we didn’t like unless it was for something special. However, as time passed there was no “grand and glorious” plan.
Besides an occasional, “Hi,” we found ourselves too busy to get too involved with neighbors the first couple of years.
On any given Sunday not many people dart out their doors to go to church. There is an occasional church bus that drives through the neighborhood picking up children.
The house directly in front of us sat empty for three years until finally a young couple moved in. Several weeks later we saw the wife sitting on her front porch holding a new baby. I went over to introduce myself and found out the baby was born a few weeks before. I asked her if I could give her a baby shower since they didn’t have family nearby and didn’t know many people. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Yes.”
I didn’t know many of our neighbors so I created an invitation and invited the entire neighborhood thinking this baby shower would have a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it would help us meet some of our neighbors and secondly, we would be celebrating the new baby. Only three neighbors responded to my invitation and they were the neighbors I already knew. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed.
I called a local pastor’s wife I knew and invited her and some of the ladies in the church. Thankfully, about 12 came and the shower was a huge success. The pastor’s wife invited the couple to their church. They visited the very next Sunday and the wife accepted Christ.
Siler City may not be the “the happening place” to live but God simply told us in His Word that the people you live among need to hear the gospel proclaimed. They simply need to be loved. “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ There is no commandment greater than these.” We need to obey His Word and reach out to our neighbors on a heart level.
About six months ago we started a bible study group with this couple and several other neighbors. We started studying the book of John. When we finish in about two weeks we will have a time of food and fellowship before we start studying the book of Romans.
Starting a small Bible study group with your neighbors does require you to make a commitment but it’s not a difficult process. Robert Noland said in 4 Essentials to a Biblical Small Group, “To understand the goal and value of small group ministry today, we must go back to the source—Acts 2:42-47.”
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Taking this passage apart and applying to today’s small groups, we should then…
1) Read and study the Bible together; 2) Be in authentic fellowship with one another; 3) Share meals together; and 4) Pray together. The healthy, biblical small group is a window for the world to see Jesus.
Our theme this year for our Annual Meeting at the Baptist State Convention is, “Greater Things.” Everyone has an opportunity to do “Greater Things” and it can start right in your own neighborhood and when someone accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, it is “grand and glorious.”