It’s a sad admission, but I’ve spent more time with my neighbours in my new home in Richmond in the past week than I did living in Auckland in the past eight years. This is rather a poor refection on me than it is on the city of Auckland. People might be busier there, but that’s no excuse. I lacked intentionality. I ought to have worked harder at it.
However, in saying that, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the two places. Life really is different here. Things run at a slower pace. People have more time. The worker at the video store not only said ‘thanks’ when I returned the movie, she wanted to know what we thought about it and why we enjoyed it. The guy who came an installed a new antenna on my roof helped unpack and set up my TV and then sat down on one of our sofas and started chatting about life. Even the lady at the recycling centre stopped to talk and was handing out free pumpkins, which she grows in her own back yard and gives away to her customers. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen in big cities.
But it happens here. And it provides some easy roads for getting into people’s lives and talking about the gospel – providing you are thinking in that direction. Again, it requires that element of intentionality. Every human encounter is an opportunity. Today I’ll be visiting the local swimming pool, the paint shop and the Mall. That’s three new places of contact. I’ll be back at the pool every week so I’ll be looking to build relationships with the regulars. The shop in the Mall will be a one-off so will require quick thinking in that initial conversation. I’ll be likely returning to the paint shop but might not have the same worker, so again, I’ll need to be thinking on my feet.
This is the world we live in – whether in a big city or a town. It’s full of people who need Jesus. We have to see it and be thinking about it each and every day. Otherwise the opportunity will simply pass us by. And those opportunities will be lost forever.
By the way, how’s your neighbour?