Special Story from Chicago
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There are often extra kids gathered around the table for dinner at the Beasley home. Mike and Mary Jo Beasley are intentional about connecting with neighbors in their townhome community, and kids naturally gravitate toward their welcoming home.
Nine-year-old Ryan regularly attends Awana with the Beasleys and their children. When Ryan was invited to dinner before attending Awana, he spontaneously invited another friend to join them. Recently, Ryan said, “You guys are like family to me.” Sometimes dinner has to stretch to accommodate those at the table. While family dinner is a normal occurrence for the Beasleys, not every kid in the community has that regular family connection around the dinner table.
Mike and Mary Jo, Nav Neighbors volunteers, build relationships with multi-cultural neighbors in their townhome community. There are 740 units in less than a square mile, housing several thousand people in a suburb just outside of Chicago. Mary Jo shares, “Once we open our front door, we see someone we know. We have spiritual and worldview-related conversations all the time. There is a park right in front of our home and in the summer the swimming pool is a natural gathering spot.”
Since the townhomes tend to be “starter” homes, neighbors often move on as their families grow. One neighborhood family was contemplating moving to a larger house, but they reconsidered, telling Mike, “We like the feeling of community here, the activities that connect people and the family atmosphere.” Even people who are not yet aware of God can “smell the aroma of Christ,” according to Mike.
Mike and Mary Jo also lead a Bible study in the neighborhood. They are praying that God’s call for Christians in the townhouse community to represent Christ in their own spheres of influence will become more deeply rooted in this group. The Bible study group hosts an annual block party and other activities in the community.
While Mike and Mary Jo are intentional about pursing relationships, neighbors also seek them out in times of difficulty, knowing that they are caring people. Recently, a woman in a difficult marital situation started sharing her heart with Mary Jo and pouring out her questions about God. She is now seeking God, and attends the neighborhood Bible study and church.
The seeds planted through intentionality and availability make a difference over the years. Jacob is in his twenties now and still lives in the townhome community and stays in contact with Mike, considering him to be like family. Jacob’s father died when he was just 12. Mike spent time with him in simple activities like playing catch and being available to talk. Mike’s faithful presence made a big impression on Jacob.
The focus on loving their neighbors and the fruit from their ministry is a result of many prayers and intentional actions. They also credit the support of different parts of the Body of Christ working together in ministry. Their local church and a Christian day camp both offer quality children’s ministry that has greatly benefited kids and families in the neighborhood.
*Names changed in this story.
How can you reach out to your neighbors?
Look for ways to get to know neighbors; strike up conversations as you walk your dog, shovel snow, or work in your yard.
Be intentional about developing relationships, inviting neighbors over for a meal, or offering to help with a need.
Pray for opportunities to serve and love your neighbors.
For more about Nav Neighbors ministry visit navneighbors.org