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Not the JWs!!

by on August 9, 2010

I can’t remember many things I’ve done in life that are as humanising and life-affirming as home-visiting in Canterbury. For me, I mean. I know that sounds weird. It’s hard to put into words. I certainly never would have said that about doorknocking I’ve done in the past. But what we’re doing now is different. It’s not so much doorknocking, as visiting, I guess you’d call it. Here’s a big claim: most people who open their doors to us end up glad that we came. They often even say so. And we are glad we came, too.

Why? Because it’s a positive thing to meet and connect with your neighbours. And that’s what we’re doing. Most people would like to feel more community in their street, suburb etc. We turn up at their door, and they think, ‘Here we go, what do these guys want? Probably Jehovah’s Witnesses, or else collecting money’. By the time we’ve said who we are, and where we’re from (‘We’re from the church up the road’), they are pretty sure we’re up to no good.’ Yesterday one particularly grumpy man, as I introduced us, growled at me, ‘Keep it brief!

But when we get the chance to go on and say, ‘We thought it would be good to say g’day to some of our neighbours,’ the atmosphere usually changes. Suddenly we’re real people, who belong here. Against all expectations, we aren’t trying to sell anything or push a message. We’ve come with no particular agenda, except making a move towards growing community. We don’t push or pry. We don’t try to ‘bring the conversation around’. We don’t even ask many questions. We just act like neighbours.The surprise this creates can be quite creative. I think people often (not always!) start feeling at this point that our agenda is ok. We’re not the enemy. We’re friendly neighbours. The grumpy man yesterday who growled at me, three minutes later after a brief chat, found himself saying, ‘It’s a good thing you’re doing, boys, good on you.’

And so people get neighbourly. They start letting us into their lives. We hear their stories. Sometimes very strange stories! We get a window into lives very different from our own.  It’s truly an education.

I always come away from visiting feeling the richer for it. There’s something about the vulnerability of turning up at the door with no excuse and no plan, which is quite softening and, well, humanising, is the best word I can find. It changes us. Wish I could explain better. It’s pretty exciting actually. In an alienated community, we have been sent to be agents of peace, bringing the love and fellowship of Christ. Even this first visit is already demonstrating the healing, reconciling power of the gospel:

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

Ephesians 2:14

And most exciting, this is just a tiny start. We haven’t managed to revisit anyone yet – just getting a feel for the area. Imagine the possibilities when we have the time and man-power to develop and deepen these connections! If something significant can happen on a first visit, imagine by the tenth visit, or when they eventually visit us! I see the grace of Jesus spreading right around this community. I’m praying for that.

Looking forward to the next few years in Canterbury!

From → General

4 Comments
  1. Susannah permalink

    Better watch out – you’ll have people walking around Canterbury all happy and cheerful and smiling at each other. Can’t have such profligate goings-on in this day and age!

    🙂 Susannah

  2. Chris permalink

    Teresa and I had a really positive visiting yesterday too! It’s fantastic! Nevertheless still a bit nerve wracking to start with!

  3. Andrew Southerton permalink

    In the photo they look like Mormons… and they are holding hands. Weird.

    • Thanks Suds for this specialist insight.

      Hadn’t noticed the hands, I have to admit! Disturbing. I’m not such a visual person, you see.

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