Everybody needs good neighbours

I grew up in the 1980s watching a soap called ‘Neighbours.’ I still remember the opening theme song:

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours. With a little help each morning; it helps to make a better day. Neighbours, should be there for one another; that’s when good neighbours become, good friends.’

It may sound cheesy but it’s true. If we are good neighbours then we become friends to those we support through the highs and lows of life. Proverbs 18:24 speaks of, ‘…a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’ Despite not being blood relations, we can end up being closer to our neighbours because we do daily ‘life’ with them, whereas we might only see family occasionally. If we make the effort to build relationships, the result might be just friendly chats over the fence but equally, neighbours might become the people who are helpful to us in a crisis and vice versa. We become the ones they share their woes and joys with. This puts us in a position to pray into their lives because they disclose to us things that weigh heavy on them that perhaps they don’t want to worry family with.

Putting back the bins, sweeping up each other’s leaves, getting something from the shops, giving lifts, having lunch or breakfast together, making birthday cakes for each other, sitting with couples whilst tensions are high between them and only leaving when you know the mood has lightened between them, picking up the kids from school, keeping an eye on the house whilst they’re on holiday, borrowing tools for DIY jobs, going over and asking if everything’s OK when someone’s got the bonnet up on their car, making a meal for a busy couple and giving them some ‘us time’ whilst we babysit their 3 kids, having a neighbour sleepover when they’re afraid after being burgled- these are all things that either we as a family have done or neighbours have done for us.  

I am reminded of old neighbours. I grew up on the roughest estate in Dudley. My mom was an Avon lady; I often went around door-to-door with her delivering cosmetics etc. I recall two neighbours at that time who were generous with their orders and their time; they were kind to us. One was in her 50s back then when we moved away but during Covid when she was in her 80s, we went back to visit her because had she lost her husband and her will to live. I went back a couple of times after that with basic essentials but also popped some devotionals in the bag because I recognised that she was in a reflective season and in need of comfort and hope. She rang our home later and thanked me for them. A few months later she died. I’m glad I had the opportunity to give back to this lady who had supported us as we were growing up. I’m glad that I was led to help her spiritually and not just practically.

Recently, I crossed paths with the other neighbour from that estate where I grew up. A year before, we had crossed paths in the same place and I had not spoken to her for at least 2 decades. At that time she told me that her Mum had just died and she was so low; that the same had happened to her neighbour and they were the only support and comfort they had to each other. She said, ‘All my life, I have given, given, given and now at the end there is no one there for me.’ She was a great-grandmother now and felt that once she had brought up her grandchildren, neither they nor her children bothered with her because they no longer needed her. No one visited and she missed her mom dearly. She said, ‘Who have you got when your parents go?’ I told her that I was a Christian and knew that God saw her, knew her and loved her. I said I would pray for her and her friend. When I saw her recently, I couldn’t find words like that. I was a little discouraged because last time she nodded dismissively and didn’t really want to know more. She had politely changed the subject. This time, I simply listened, empathised, and left her with details of a community centre where meals are provided free of charge simply with the aim of bringing the lonely together.

I responded to these old neighbours because their words broke my heart and I believe that is how God feels too. He wants to reach out and He does it through us. He knows our anxious thoughts and brings people to our doors who are like a breath of fresh air. I have seen it time and again, either because we have blessed others or they have come and relieved us in our troubles.

God is working through neighbourly connections. They are so important they feature in the second most important commandment- Love your neighbour (Mark 12:31).

-Jesse Kaur
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