What IF we loved our neighbors?


Amy Pierson

I had 15 minutes to get my daughter a birthday present in the mall before I picked my kids up from school. (Glamorous, right?!) I was walking pretty fast, because I knew exactly what I needed. As I walked in, I passed a young pregnant girl in her early 20s. She wasn’t just pregnant; she was have-a-baby-at-any-minute pregnant and walking very slowly. I quickly passed, smiling and saying, “Congrats! You’ll love being a mom!” I was about 20 feet ahead of her when the Lord clearly said, “You need to pray for her.” So, I turned around and started walking back toward her. (Oh, did I mention we were the only two people in that hallway?) She laughed and said, “Did you forget something in your car?” I told her no, followed by my favorite question, “If my God could meet a need in your life, I would love to pray for that.”

She thought I was kidding. She proceeded to tell me that she grew up in a Christian home but never made it her own faith and was living pretty rebelliously away from home. During her first trimester, she had major complications and, out of nowhere, a woman came up to her in Sephora and said, “This might be weird, but I would like to pray for you.” At the appointment the next week, everything was fine. In her second trimester, she had another major complication, and it looked like she wouldn’t be able to safely carry the baby. She was at JCPenney, and again a woman came up and said, “I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but I think God wants me to pray for you.” At the appointment the next week, she learned her complications could be remedied with medicine and her baby was fine.

Then she looked me squarely in the eyes, crying, and said, “And, here I am. I could have my baby any day, and I’m terrified because I don’t think I will be a good mom. And I don’t know if God is mad at me, and you tell me you want to pray for me?” With such love, I put my arm around her and prayed for her, her baby, the father, and all her fears that God would give her peace. Then I shared a simple gospel picture called the 3 circles. She prayed, and we exchanged numbers. Faith in Jesus is my life; I can’t help but share.

Do you like to share your faith?

Reading the phrase “share your faith” always evokes emotion. My husband and I love to lead trainings: training believers in simple, natural, and reproducible ways to love our neighbors. When I lead trainings, the emotion I encounter the most is fear.

“What if I say the wrong thing?”

“I’ve never even read an apologetics book!”

I’ve never had anyone ask me how old I think the earth is or to scientifically prove the resurrection when I am simply sharing kindness through prayer or my story. Also, if I always responded flawlessly to people I encounter or am discipling, they might rely on me instead of Jesus. I’ve found that, 99 percent of the time, people just want someone to care and listen. They are genuinely surprised (not angered) when you tell them that God sees them, loves them, and wants them to know Him. For the handful of times someone has asked me something that needed a longer answer than the time allotted at the checkout at Trader Joe’s (my favorite spot), I smile and say, “It really means a lot to me that you are hearing me out and thinking about this. Your question shows me that you’re thinking. Here is my number. I would love to buy you a cup of coffee next week and discuss these questions.” Now, if it is a dude, I offer my husband’s number because #abovereproach.

Sometimes the fear is just that it will be awkward. Last fall, I was walking in the store to buy groceries and was mentally going over my list. Then the Lord clearly spoke through and said, “You need to pray for someone. You will always have lesser things to do.” (I love how Priscilla Shirer says that you know when the Lord speaks because it has the weight of the Lord’s voice in it.) After those clear marching orders, I was reminded how loved I am by God. He speaks identity over me. I’m a beloved child. I’m forgiven. I am a friend of God. I am a seed sower. He includes me in His plans. I have such worth because the very Spirit of God is in me. When I walk into a room, I bring the very presence of a living God. Wow! Don’t you love it when God moves in the produce section!?

The Great Commission is not something I will be a part of in the future — I’m a seed sower now!  I don’t need Bible degrees or to be a great teacher. I don’t need a stage, platform, or over 20k Instagram followers. Jesus gives this identity freely to all of His followers. Think about it!

The best evangelist we know of in the New Testament was the woman at the well. She had a terrible reputation, was uneducated, and was most likely illiterate. But she met Jesus and immediately went to her town to tell everyone about Jesus, and many in the town believed (v. 39). Others asked Jesus to come so they could hear from Him, and then they believed (v. 42).  

Who knows what she was doing that morning? She met Jesus, and immediately an entire town was changed! I would imagine her delivery wasn’t exactly polished, but the Holy Spirit is always working the other side. People believing in Jesus isn’t contingent upon our level of education, socioeconomic status, or reputation. It’s not hinged on if we’ve been a believer two minutes like the woman at the well or have known Him for years. The Holy Spirit could be prompting women for 40 weeks to pray for a girl that you “just happen” to walk up to at the mall. The Holy Spirit could be softening your neighbor’s heart and you “just happen” to be at the mailbox at the same time.

What if we felt deep community within our local church and here through IF:Gathering? What if we linked arms and loved our neighbors? Imagine the homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and entire cities that could experience the love and story of Christ if we all lived unleashed for the glory of God! I would love for you to join me in praying for one person a day!

 

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