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A little wave, I think he saw me.  He is young, I thought.  Is that his wife?  Wow, he has a little girl too!  My new neighbors.  God, please connect me and them.

I remember the day when he had me over for a barbecue.  He started to open up and so did I.  I learned about him, his past, his hopes and dreams.  I soon noticed that Jesus wasn’t his central focus.  In fact, we didn’t talk about God much the first couple years.  We just hung out as guys.

Then I knew the time was right.  If he would give the word, I would be more than happy to come over and teach them truth in love.  So I asked one day, “Hey would you and your wife wanna do a Bible Study with me?”  And to my surprise he said, “Yeah.”  So once a week we would meet and we would talk about Jesus and faith and truth and all.  They shared how they had tried doing church in the past but it didn’t “work.”  They felt judged, unwelcomed and uninterested in religion.

I just told them that where they needed to look for the facts behind Christianity was Christ himself.  So they did and they like what they saw.  In fact, they kept nodding their heads at what we were covering.  Then they shared about their deepening suspicion that something just wasn’t right in their souls.  That maybe Jesus could change things.  That maybe this crazy Christian neighbor was right.

But once they said yes the journey only began.  And it was rocky at first.  They just didn’t stick to Sunday services and soon there were excuses.  I was still there though, right next door.  Still praying and still wondering what needed to happen next.  I mean I’m an evangelist so just crossing the bridge with them was all I was needed for right.  Wrong.  What they needed most was what was the most helpful from the start: a trusted friendship and a Bible study right there in their living room.

So five years down the road and a new baby boy in the picture, we began to do basic Christian community together.  Sharing, listening, learning.  Life on life.  But now I had Joe to help carry us into a different place.  A place of deepening in Biblical truth.

So every Sunday night for the past year Joe and I would knock on their door, take off our shoes and plop down on their couch.  Little Trinity would have another dramatic story to tell and Tyler would want me to throw the ball for him again.  And then we would talk and study and pray.  Sometimes laughing at Joe’s super long explanations.  Sometimes crying over our sin and shame.  Sometimes we were just content on watching Travis play his video game.  Because it was home.  It was a small slice of Paradise.

And now they are headed west, out to Los Angeles.  Far away from just around the corner.  I can’t say that I’m not sad.  If I could do life alongside them for the rest of my days I would be happy.  Still at some point we all have to say goodbye here on earth.  We all have to let go.  And I know God will supply for their every need and pour out blessings on that family.  But I just won’t be as intimately involved anymore.

For all the things I’ve screwed up on and all the stuff I regret, I can at least say for certain that this one thing I got right.  I don’t take credit for it one bit but I’m so glad I got to get this gift.  This family.  This story.  My neighbors.  My friends.  🙂

So when we get to Heaven and I see the place that Jesus prepared for me.  You know I’m going to check.  Even before I open the door.  I’m gonna make sure that Travis, Lonna, Trinity and Tyler are right there.  Right next door.


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