I am with Pastor Lynn Arends, the other pastor in town, at Panda One in Eldora, sitting at a table for ten. We have one empty seat at the table. The other seats are filled by the family of my neighbor. He grew up in Steamboat Rock and moved away. He moved back a year and a half ago. I saw him outside his garage grilling while walking around the block with my daughter. I stopped to say “Hi” and introduced myself. He was very friendly and showed me his new puppy. We talked about his grill which looked like an engine block on a stand.
Later that year Pam and I were invited over for a Christmas party. He and his wife were gracious and hospitable. They stretched our palates as he served me raw oysters and offered an appetizer tray filled with oriental fare.
“My wife is from Thailand,” he explained. “She went to cooking school and can impress the best chefs.”
His wife modestly shook her head in denial, but the tastes in my mouth made me a believer.
This past year he came back. I saw his truck parked in the driveway and greeted him. He took me around to look at some of his projects in town; my neighbor is extremely energetic. We enjoyed some good conversation about the town and the opportunities and challenges it faces. This past Christmas he called me and wanted to visit about a bus or van to help pick up his mother from the care center.
Now here we are at a restaurant sharing a meal together with his family members who have come all the way across the world to visit Hardin County. They ask about the Steamboat Rock Baptist Church logo on my shirt. They share that there are Christians in Thailand but that most of the people are Buddhist. One asks whether Pastor Arends and I are part of the same church. We say, “No.”
“How many different churches are there?” asks the questioner.
“Thousands, but they all share some common beliefs,” I try to explain.
“You both believe Jesus is alive?” she asks.
We both enthusiastically nod our heads! We are bearing witness. Because 18 months ago I took the time to say “Hi” to the new neighbor on the block, we are doing international missions right here in Eldora. Want to live an adventurous life with Jesus? Commit to loving your neighbors in His name. You never know where that commitment will lead you or how those neighbors will bless you. (He bought our meal.)