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Ministry (and Inconvenience) at the Ring of a Doorbell

Ding-dong! It's Joana,* a neighbor, coming over to ask if she can have some milk and borrow 20 lei.

Ding-dong! It's Paul,* an older neighbor, who asks us if we can drive him two miles to work so he doesn't have to walk.

Ding-dong! It's Luca,* yet another neighbor, coming over to give us some raw milk and to tell us not to help undeserving moochers like Joana and Paul, especially since Paul is just a drunkard who uses any money he saves on alcohol.

Ding-dong! It's Alexa,* our Roma friend, asking if we can help her out with some urgent need.

Ding-dong! It's Joana again, bringing over a few eggs as a trade for the milk we gave her.

While the above isn't an everyday occurrence at our home in Romania, it's also not an atypical one. Throughout the week our bell rings from each of the above individuals at least once, and usually more. It’s a huge blessing that we have neighbors and outsiders who are knocking at our door so frequently, but after a while, the blessing seems more like a burden.

How do you handle giving and loaning resources to individuals on a frequent basis? Do you require your schedule to be flexible so you can help people as they approach you out of the blue, or do you require them to be flexible with your schedule? How do you handle community conflict, when one of your neighbors tells you to stop helping your other neighbors because they're bad news? How do you show those “bad news” neighbors that your help is not out of naiveté or because you're a foreigner who has plenty of spare resources, but because you seek to love even those the community has rejected? How do you explain love, stereotypes, and the gospel—in broken Romanian—with a neighbor who is irate that you allowed a "gypsy" into your home, and through that are encouraging them to enter this community more frequently?

An inconvenient opportunity
Every time we hear the doorbell, we hear much more than just the sound of an unexpected guest. We hear the sound of unexpected imposition, stress, frustration, exhaustion, loss of time, effort, loss of money, societal pressure, and a whole host of other things. The doorbell rings when we're tired. It rings when my wife Catalina is in the hospital with one of our children and I'm wrangling two kids. It rings when I'm out working and Catalina is wrangling three kids. It rings when we're getting the kids ready for bed. It rings when we're getting ready to take the kids to school. It sometimes rings when it's convenient, but mostly, it rings when it's inconvenient. Our hearts sink when we hear our doorbell ring—and we hear it ring a lot.

But the doorbell also represents opportunity. And when opportunity knocks (or rings), you answer it. While all of the negatives pointed out above are true, the doorbell also represents many positives. First and foremost it is an opportunity for us to love others with the love of Christ and share the gospel—in word and deed—with them. It's an opportunity for us to build credibility in the community as we show our love to the unlovely even in the face of the community's disdain for them. It's an opportunity to grow our connections with those in need so we can dig deeper into that community. It's an opportunity to grow our patience, perseverance, trust, joy, and kindness. It's an opportunity to show our kids the love and service we read about during devotions and ask them to exemplify at school. It's an opportunity to show our kids how we give to those in need, and how we view imposition not as something that imposes a burden on us, but an ordained encounter which calls us to relieve the burden of another in some form or fashion. Sometimes it's an opportunity for us to relinquish our death grip on "our" resources so another can be freed. Sometimes it's an opportunity for us to hold on to those resources and counsel towards deeper character needs. Sometimes it's an opportunity for us to show that our schedule, our efficiency, and our pragmatism comes second to relationships. And sometimes it's an opportunity for us to share from the Bible and to share the gospel.

For whatever reason, our doorbell never rang in the States. It may have been our culture, our community's policy against solicitation, our lack of involvement in our immediate community, or any other number of things. Yes, it was a blessing to be left in peace, and every time I hear our doorbell ring, I miss those days. However, God is teaching us that He is blessing us with the opportunity to leave others in peace at the expense of our own. It's a hard lesson we learn and relearn daily, but it's one that is growing us tremendously. Please pray that God would continue to grow us, that He would equip us to love others well, and that He would be working in the hearts of all He brings to us so they may see His love, receive the gospel, and grow in His community. 

Derek Kreider serves with MTW in Brasov, Romania

Derek Kreider, Brasov Romania Jun 28, 2018
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Pray for Orthodox Christians in Romania who are beginning to recognize the significance of some of their traditions. 

Pray for Romanians who are steeped in the traditions of the church, but without an understanding of how Jesus could impact their lives.

Pray for the church in Romania to recognize their need for Christ and be vulnerable in their brokenness, something counter to their culture. 

Pray for two women, Monika and Andrea, who have recently come to faith against the odds in a hard-to-reach, largely atheistic European city.

Pray for Monika, that God would continue to heal her, give her a new purpose, and protect her life from physical harm, and for Andrea, that she would grow deep roots of faith and be a witness to those like her—unlikely subjects—of the reality of the grace of God.

DAY 28: Germany: for our team as they prepare the initial phases for a new Reformed church plant in the south of Munich.

DAY 27: Pray that, like Paul, the Taliban repent and become followers of Jesus, instead of persecuting His followers.

DAY 26: Pray for a new church plant in the Matsubara neighborhood of Tokyo. Ask the Lord to bless Bible studies with non-believers there.

DAY 25: Pray for global city church plants to effectively disciple God's scattered people from all nations.

DAY 24: Pray for Native American and First Nations peoples, that past harms would be healed through the power of the gospel.

DAY 23: Pray for new believers in the Arab Gulf to grow in their faith despite opposition and to form together into churches.

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