Looking at the Engagement Encounter has caused us to remember other times in our lives when the Lord prompted us to reach out to our neighbors. We had moved to our new home in a small town in NW Washington in September, and had a busy autumn getting settled and reclaiming the large yard, which had been badly neglected. The small house next door, with an equally large yard, had been on the market when we bought our home, and it finally sold in the spring.
Our new neighbor was in her early seventies, delighted with her new house, and quite friendly. She responded to our "let us know if there is anything we can do to help" by asking my husband to put up a new lamp over her dining room table. I visited with our new neighbor while my husband was working on the lamp. She had a lot of health problems, she couldn't even vacuum her house, but the church ladies came over a couple of times a week to do cleaning for her. I asked her what church she attended, and she told me she was a Mormon. She wondered what she would do with the yard? I wondered too. She did not have a lawn mower, and those yards were about 2/3 of an acre.
When we went home, I told my husband what I had learned about Mrs. Lane (not her real name), and then mused, "I wonder why she bought that house without thinking about the lawn? My husband's answer was practical, but daunting. "The Lord had her buy that house so that she could learn about Jesus, and it will have to be you, because you are a woman."
How was I going to approach that? Our church had just had a session about witnessing to Mormons, and it did seem like a big assignment. It would not be just, "Do you know Jesus?" It would be, "Do you know that what you think you know about Jesus is not who Jesus really is?"
In those days I did my Bible reading whenever I could squeeze it in. We had four children, two in school and two still at home. It wasn't easy to pick a quiet time in the middle of the day. That morning I was sitting at the table with my Bible at about ten o'clock, when Mrs. Lane knocked at the back door. I invited her in, and she sat down across the table, asking what I was reading. I told her the book and chapter (I wish I could remember what it was) and she asked me to read it to her and then asked what it meant. The conversation flowed easily into the gospel, and she listened intently. Before she left, I gave her a pamphlet that I had received when we did the witnessing to Mormon's session. It was called "To Moroni with Love," written by a man who had left the Mormon church when he found Christ. I told her that I wanted it back, because I did, but also because I wanted to have a chance to ask her what she thought.
A couple of days later, Mrs. Lane was sitting across the kitchen table again, the little pamphlet in her hand.
"What did you think?" I asked.
"Well, I can tell you one thing. I am never going back there again."
I was stunned. It wasn't that I did not believe my husband, that Mrs. Lane was our neighbor so that she could meet Christ. But I had never thought it would be so, well, so simple.
We had a long conversation about Jesus, about asking him to be our Savior, about the Holy Spirit who helps us, about how much the Lord loves us, about our home in Heaven. It wasn't the first conversation. I often visited her in her little home, and she told me that she knew I was telling her the truth. I was touched by her confidence and amazed at the conversational doors the Lord opened. Mrs. Lane had grown up Lutheran, she became a Mormon after her girls were raised. She decided to go back to her old church, and her girls started coming around again to help her. She found a good person to mow her lawn, and never complained as her health deteriorated. One day she entered the hospital, and did not come home again.
At least she did not come back to her little house. The Lord did see her safely home.
Thank you, Jesus, for the blessing of knowing Mrs. Lane.