Monday, August 31, 2009

Mr. Roger's Missional Method of Cultural Engagement...or, not...

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anais Nin

Mr. Roger's was the vanguard of missional endeavors...his secret, was simply...being a good neighbor.

You can sell all your 'Missional books, dvds and conference tickets'...and just watch and embody the above video intro of his show and get more wisdom for community care and impact than all the other stuff combined. I learned this the other day...

I was interrupted during my writing time, the other morning by a knock on the door. I opened it and it was a man from the neighborhood that I have been developing a slow growing friendship with. He's lived in this area for over 15 years and he is in his 50's and has a mental disability of some sort. I've been fond of him, since I first met him and his family when I was prayer walking with my guitar in the first days of our church plant. Since that meeting, I've consciously sought to be his friend...even though for many years, He has kept me at a distance, kind of like an interested but aloof cat.

He's turned down countless invitations to this or that church activity or services. He's never come to one of our Community Dinners and rarely lingers in conversation around my fence for more than 5 minutes. Yet, he always crosses the road and ask's me "What Im doing" when he finds me outside. Our short conversations usually center around mowing the lawn...because he is a expert in yard care...that's how he makes extra cash to supplement his state checks. We talk mowers, rocks, blades and possible folks to hit up for a yard job...most of my tips, he lets fall to the ground as soon as I say them...I've never appeared to important to him. But, I still talk.

Some times I give him rides, just a few blocks, or to the store...or we run into each other at Freddie's...he usually has a bag of lunch meats from the deili...because he mostly eats Turkey sandwiches....he's extremely picky. I've taken him gifts at Christmas....dinner plates after meals, treats from events...and mostly, he has seemed disinterested. But I've just continued bothering him nonetheless...mostly because, I have a God given heart for the lonely, forgotten and sometimes odd folks. I have a deep inner pain for those who I know are very isolated and longing for companionship but often just dont know how to be a friend...or are simply unattractive, smelly, old or poor and don't appear to have much to offer the "Fast & the Furious" of today's up and coming world. I've felt that way too...and there are many memories of feeling forgotten and not good enough.

These are the type of people, I was assured we couldn't "build" a church with in this neighborhood...and maybe that's true...but they are the people, we can "BE" the church for...and in many ways, that's much more the way of Christ in my opinion.

My friend at the door...sat down on my porch railing and simply said:

"I'm lonely...I don't have any friends...what are you doing?"

It was in that moment, that I was granted the gift of friendship, expressed. It was a precious moment to me. We ended up going to my favorite coffee shop and shared some good coffee and cookies together. As we sat down at the table in the crowded room, he said he wanted to pray. I bowed my head and he led us in a simple but heartfelt prayer for each other, the troops and the food.

When he was done, he asked me "How did you like my prayer?"; I smiled and told him I thought it was a really good prayer.

He sipped his coffee with ice and cream and then said: "I like having coffee with someone who is a friend...do you like having coffee with me?

Yes, I do...I replied..."I really enjoy it."

He then told me he could beat me at Monopoly....

I guess, that will be another day's story from the Neighborhood.
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