God has planted a new idea in our hearts, and that is to establish a fixed time each week in which we study the Word of God with our neighbors.
It’s really as simple as deciding to do it and setting a time, so last week Darwin and I went walking around the gravel paths of our neighborhood to pop in and invite about a couple dozen households with which we already have relationships. We didn’t even have any kind of handout or written invitation or really even a developed idea of what the Bible study would look like, so we simply said, “If you want to come to our home tomorrow at noon, we’re going to eat lunch and then study God’s word from 1:00-2:00pm. We’ll be doing this every Wednesday at the same time with whomever has the desire to join us.”
So Tuesday night as Darwin and I were discussing who else we should invite to the Bible study the next day (in Honduras if you invite people one or two weeks ahead of time, they forget and don’t come), before processing the thought, my lips said, “Brayan and Little Darwin.”
Darwin looked at me and let out a sigh-laugh, saying, “This must be from God, because in my flesh I definitely do not want to invite them.” After both got expelled and/or quit voluntarily from homeschool twice in the last year and have since been back only to bully others, steal and cause a ruckus, we haven’t been too keen on having them around our home in the last several weeks. We’ve heard from various sources that they’ve stolen from other neighbors as well, have had sexually errant behavior together in the local river, and are slandering us in the local community.
‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ doesn’t necessarily mean give another undeserved opportunity to someone who’s thrown away the many they’ve had (as in “Come on back to homeschool again” or “That’s okay, you can come eat in our home everyday even though you aren’t currently working or studying and you don’t respect us”), but to us it does mean open up your home to study God’s True Word with anyone and everyone that has a desire to do so, even if they’ve done you wrong, rejected any prior help, or are currently walking the wrong path.
We both agreed to invite them out of obedience to God and then leave it up to them whether or not they came, so the next day we passed by the shanty where Little Darwin lives with his parents and where Brayan is also currently living after his step-mom got fed up with his antics and kicked him out. We breathed deep as several emaciated dogs came charging at us, determined to protect the rocky, muddy, trash- and feces-littered property. A young female relative and Little Darwin’s mom greeted us enthusiastically and invited us inside the fence to talk. As my husband sat on a plastic chair and I sat on a rock beside him, we gave the simple invitation to his mom as she rocked back-and-forth on a threadbare hammock, asking her to pass the message on to Brayan and Little Darwin when they returned home.
As we were getting up to leave, Little Darwin (we call him this only to distinguish him from my husband Darwin, but now that he is 14 or 15 years old he’s not little at all) came walking through the front gate, undoubtedly surprised to see us chit-chatting with his mom. We stood up to greet him, shook his hand, invited him to study God’s Word with us in about an hour-and-a-half (it was already 10:30am), and then left.
Darwin (my husband) and I arrived home, showered, and were finishing the preparations for the Bible study with a lot of anticipation in our hearts to see if any of our neighbors would end up coming. Around 11:45am Darwin walked out front to see how things were coming along, and when he came back to our bedroom I asked him if anyone had come yet.
His answer: “Little Darwin.”
I almost couldn’t believe it (and so punctual!), so I walked out front on my way to the kitchen and, sure enough, Little Darwin, a giant among children, stood somewhat awkwardly but not ashamedly against the wall on the Education House’s porch freshly bathed and in mismatched camoflauge clothing. We smiled when we saw each other and I gave him a big hug, inviting him and several of the other kids to play soccer with me while we waited to see if anyone else was going to arrive.
Well, 17 neighbors ended up coming that first day to study God’s Word with us – some as old as 70-something years and others as young as eight or ten. Several youth from Darwin’s choir came in sibling groups, a couple older men came alone, and one middle-aged neighbor (the one who showed up a few Sunday’s ago with his guns to help trap the teen thieves) came with his wife, their four kids, and a granddaughter. In all, there were 26 people gathered in our dining room – some who steal, others who trap those who do, and others still who get stolen from, all in the same room – united for the sole purpose of learning more about the Living God. Some arrived in cars, others arrived on foot. Some already know the Savior and others might have only come because they know some of His followers. One teenage boy showed up with a notebook and pencil, ready to take notes on the study, and another elderly neighbor told us afterward that he plans on inviting another neighbor of his to our “classes.” Many people prayed, many people shared, and overall I was stunned by what God can do when we simply become available.
I think many times we delay our obedience to God because we are waiting for the perfect time or for the stars to align or for a sickness to pass or for our schedule to clear up.
The only reason we carried through with this initiative last week was because we had determined in our hearts to do so out of obedience, to take the first step and allow God to guide those that follow. I have been struggling with a virus that has had me confined to bed-rest several hours per day for over four weeks now, and as my fever continues on day after day and my body struggles in its weakness, I thought Surely we can delay the Bible Study a couple more weeks until I feel better, but I sensed the Lord was telling me: The time is now. Just become available, and I will do the rest. I can work through your weakness.
So no signs, no music, no frills, and maybe no real energy or health – just a simple spoken invitation in the foothills of the mountains to come study the Word of God with a couple people who themselves still have a whole lot left to learn.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.