My friend comments about an interesting experience relating to her neighborhood. She writes...
"Your story about Ben speaks to me, because we have a situation on our block where a new resident has turned his front yard into a repository for broken-down restaurant equipment and other junk. He seems like a nice young guy when we talk with him, but nothing has changed in several weeks. Some neighbors have called the city code enforcement to report him.
Meanwhile, this past Monday morning the fall neighborhood Bible study began. Since early 2002, this group has met for typically three studies per year, taking off during the summer and end-of-year holidays. Another woman hosts, and I lead the discussions. As I have done in the past, I circulated an invitation to every home on the block a couple of weeks in advance.
As we gathered that morning, some of the usual attenders began catching up on news from the summer. The topic of our new neighbor came up, along with critical comments on the state of his front yard. A few minutes later, guess who showed up at the door to join the study! I trust he didn't notice our red faces.
We welcomed him. He had brought his Bible, and he participated in both the discussion and the prayers afterwards. His prayer "in Jesus' name" sounded very sincere. I hope he comes back next week.
God is teaching me not to judge people's character by external evidence that may be unrelated to the kind of person they are. I don't know what reasons my neighbor might have for not yet doing something about his junk pile, but I want to be forgiving and compassionate in the process of seeking resolution. I think this kind of approach would get better results anyway. It seems almost ironic that our topical Bible study for this fall is focused on "caring for physical needs"--including needs for practical help. Instead of being confrontational, maybe our group could offer to haul things away for him--or at least help move them into his back yard!"