Over the years we have worked hard to get to know our neighbors. We have done block parties, Easter egg hunts and left anonymous gifts on the door steps of others. As time has passed, many people have moved in and out of the neighborhood, but some of us have been there since it was built (13 years ago).
I am constantly asking myself what it looks like to love my neighbors. There was a new way that presented itself this week. We were out for a long walk on Sunday evening with friends at least a mile away when we got a phone call from a neighbor who felt a man was stalking her. She was working on cleaning out her garage and a very creepy man was standing across the street leering at her. With tons of stuff on her driveway, she felt she couldn’t go inside.
She had called the cops already, but my friend and I decided to jog back to make sure she was safe. As we went striding toward the corner of our block, there was a suspicious guy standing there, so we engaged him briefly and then ran down to the neighbor’s house. She was concerned and glad that we had arrived. We quickly learned that the man we had seen was, in fact, the same man who had been intimidating her, so we went to find him. Meanwhile the police were looking for him in the parking lot of the mall.
When we found the guy again, and questioned him, it became clear that his reasons for being in our neighborhood kept changing. About that time, the Chico Police showed up again. They took it from there, ended up searching his car and he disappeared. Protecting others and making them feel safe was the way we loved our neighbors that night. Word spread fairly quickly on our closed neighborhood facebook page, and several dads were seen either biking around the neighborhood or driving around to make sure everything was safe.
What started as a scary situation for a single woman ended up with neighbors standing in the middle of the street laughing and enjoying each other’s company. When one dad looked at me and said, “I think it’s time to get everyone together again,” I knew that God was just creating a need and a hunger for community.
One of the ways I love my neighbors is to help them feel safe. That’s why we have shared our cell phone numbers with them, and make sure we make a point to tell them when we are out of town. We are modeling living in community where we live. It is not a burden -- it is one of our greatest joys.
Have you introduced yourself to your neighbors? Do you have enough relationship that you could call them if you felt threatened or if you needed help? What does it look like to defend and protect others? It is in our nature as believers to go after lost, vulnerable sheep and protect them. Let’s start by crossing the street and saying “hello”.