Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city.  This year, World Next Door sent a team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation to tell some of the stories from the weekend.

This is one of those stories.

To read all of the Weekend of Service articles from 2010, click here.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Written by Jennifer Taylor

Photos by Cara and Debbie Bruton

I was listening to the radio in the car when I heard one of those songs that really gets me pumped up and inspired to do God’s work: diving in, going deep, in over my head!  It’s a rush knowing that God’s power helps us change the world.

Working together can bring neighbors together

But then the song changed, the light changed and the impatient driver behind me honked.  The reality of God’s work settled in as I thought of epidemics in third world countries, starving children everywhere and religious tensions across the globe.  It seems too big and too much. What can I do about such catastrophes?

I contemplated this as I helped an elderly woman last weekend.  She was sponsored by The Shepherd’s Center, a non-profit based in Westfield, Indiana.  Along with two other families, I helped her do yard work.  As I drove toward her home that day, my mind ran through my own to-do list: 9-1pm service project; 1-4pm baby shower; 4-6pm lesson prep; 7-9pm lead church group…

“I am a busy person,” I thought. “What am I doing spending all morning cleaning up leaves?  What difference will this task possibly make in the world?”

As always, God was ready with an answer.  He showed me that not every mission for God is on a global scale.

Our morning started with a list – one you might call a typical ‘honey-do’ list.

Attacking the weeds

1. Trim shrubs

2. Rake and bag leaves

3. Put patio furniture in shed

4. Clean windows

Simple tasks, right?

Not for Pearl Mae, the woman we were helping. Her husband passed away and she isn’t able to move around easily these days.  So we got started and she was able to sit and watch as nine new friends helped her trim, rake, lift, carry, and clean all around her back and front yard.

We took breaks from our tasks to chat with Pearl Mae and we could see that the attention we were paying to her was just as meaningful as the attention we were paying to her yard.  Someone was taking the time to be with her.  She was always asking if WE needed help as we were helping her!

“Reminds me of a beehive,” she commented with a smile as we stood for a moment looking at everyone busy around us.

Within three hours, our ‘honey-do’ list was done and the condition of her yard had gone from neglected to neat.  We gathered for a prayer and said goodbye.  As we started to leave, Pearl Mae looked around her yard and smiled. She said she would start to cry if she started to thank us, so she hugged us instead.

We didn’t do any great deed by worldly standards, just that of neighborly love, commanded to us by the One who Loved all.  But in doing that we accomplished God’s mission that day.

Helping Pearl Mae got me thinking; who is there to care for the elderly in my neighborhood?  Who is there to help my grandma when she is out trying to hang Christmas lights along the roof of her house? Some areas have organizations like The Shepherd’s Center helping to support the elderly population, but not all.  The need is great for people who will take some time out of their week to care for others.

Bringing order to chaos

As I returned home, I challenged myself to look around my own neighborhood, past my busy schedule and garage door, and see who needs help right here around me.  I can dream of being a powerful superhero that can change the world, but in the meantime I can find ways to be a superhero to those around me.

God’s love can be shown in grass cutting, snow removing, car driving, cup of coffee chatting, changing a light bulb and many other simple ways that bring relief to someone’s life. Come to think of it, isn’t that what most of Christ’s miracles were? Between the demon castings and the healings, Jesus lived with people; he ate with them, walked with them and talked with them and who knows? Maybe he even helped to fix their chair.

The message of Christ’s love can be as simple and pure as helping a neighbor or talking with a new friend.  I served alongside people who believed in the importance of loving and serving others before themselves, and we worked together to make someone’s life a little easier.  To the world, Pearl Mae’s clean yard was trivial, but to her, those three hours meant everything.

And isn’t that Godly enough?

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Next Steps
    • Volunteer with organizations like The Shepherd's Center that focuses on the elderly in your area. A couple hours a week or a day a month can make a difference in someone's life.
    • Adopt an elderly couple in your neighborhood and check in with them throughout the week or month.
    • Organize a neighborhood plan to help those in the neighborhood who need assistance, no matter their age. You can make a world of difference with just your snow blower or green thumb.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city. This team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation told some of the stories from the weekend.

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Comments

  1. Jim.M said... 

    Reply

    November 13th, 2010 at 10:55 pm  

    “Between the demon castings and the healings, Jesus lived with people; he ate with them, walked with them and talked with them and who knows? Maybe he even helped to fix their chair.”

    “As I returned home, I challenged myself to look around”

    Jen, I loved these two lines. An image of Jesus that is so down to earth, and a reminder that we should look around (outside of) ourselves, what are we called to be and do…who can we help, who can we be present too, who can we walk with.

    Great story.

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