Encouragement for those who don't know what to do
Be realistic about your community.
It has got back to me that it has made a difference. All I have done is pray, nothing more, but it has made a difference to my community.
I don’t know why God chooses to work though people’s prayers but the Bible shows us that He does.
Influence is important
I believe passionately that God intended people to influence one another. Some people are better influences than others. As Christians our influence is important to our communities. Let’s think about the communities where we live. Without God there is no reason for our neighbours to care about one another or their surroundings. Maybe they don’t! But you are there so you can make a difference.
What we can all do
If you are great at getting involved with your community and know all your neighbours then keep it up. We are not all like that and many of us put our greatest energies into our church communities anyway. Having an influence can be difficult. I had met more of my neighbours within the first week of living in Lincolnshire than I did in the entire 5 years we lived in Enfield, North London. If you are not the sort who finds starting conversations with strangers easy then getting to know new people can be difficult. If you live where people pop out of their front doors and into their cars without looking left or right then that can be difficult. Be realistic about your community but rest assured there is one thing we can all do—pray for our communities.
A couple of stories
Prayer works and here are a couple of stories about my community to hopefully encourage even the most shy amongst you or those who can not imagine they can make a difference.
A friend told me that she had become involved with a lady who had many problems and she was trying to help her. This lady lived near me. In fact I can see her roof from my bedroom window. I had never met this lady, indeed I still have not. But my friend said that she could tell that someone had been praying for this lady and she supposed it was me. I may not be the only one but she was right, I do pray for those who live near me even though I have never met them. I pray for those in my street and housing estate over and above the rest of my town. God has placed me here to influence. It has got back to me that it has made a difference. All I have done is pray, nothing more, but it has made a difference to my community.
Before we moved here my eldest son very much wanted to live near a river so I encouraged him to ask God for this desire of his heart. Well the river is about 250 meters from our front door and running into it is a (mostly pretty) drainage ditch which passes our next-door-neighbour’s house. There is a foot path which goes along side this ditch to the river and into town. We use it often but it distresses me that not everyone appreciates it as much as I do. You see people throw rubbish into it. Every time I walked along it I would pray and say sorry to God that people do not care for his beautiful creation and acknowledge how much more sad he must be about the world than I felt over this small piece of spoiling. And I would pray about what I could do about it. Yes, people do pick up bits and take it home (I have seen them) but there were supermarket trolleys, an old tyre, bricks and wood and too much that could not be reached from the bank.
Then the answer came. Some neighbours who are good at organising such things, and who had the right knowledge of how to go about this type of activity had organised a community litter pick. They had liased with the relevant councils, secured funding for a skip, procured gloves, rubbish bags etc. and were looking for people who lived locally to come and help on a particular Saturday. Well that would be me then! I couldn’t have organised such a thing, I wouldn’t know how to go about it but I believe my prayers led to this clear up of my community. Things happen when people pray.
I don’t know why God chooses to work though people’s prayers but the Bible shows us that He does. Somehow our prayers release His power to do His work. Changing your community may seem a big job if you live in a difficult, even violent, place. God is equal to the task though. Keep praying about it.
This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.