Pastoral Perspectives


When we moved into our current place, we had neighbours who were not easy to live with. Two weeks after we had moved in, some of our things went missing and we found out that our neighbour had instructed the cleaners to throw our stuffs away. That was not all! Each morning when we opened the front door, at least 3-6 incense sticks would quickly be lighted up and placed opposite our door. The scent was so strong that it started affecting our breathing. Once we closed the door, the man would proceed to stand in the corridor and smoke. The cigarette smoke would soon envelope the corridor.

For months, we could do nothing. The management said they could help file a police case but that it might not be so easy. “That old man is a very difficult person to talk to” I was told. I had already drafted an official email in my mind to be sent to the management office. Somehow I could never send it. Every time I wanted to send it, the email address would be missing or my quiet time passage would remind me “do not repay evil for evil”, “seventy-times seven”, “pray for your enemies”…. My children were affected because their greetings were not acknowledged. My daughter sadly told me one day “the old man does not smile at me.”

It was a daily struggle for us but in the midst of all the busyness, we gave up trying to do anything about it because there was nothing we could do. Nevertheless, we continued to pray for them every day. It was so hard praying for them because our emotions were very raw. It was hard for me personally because I had to control my unhappiness and anger in front of the kids lest they react likewise.

One day, we were given lots of food by a friend. We decided to give some portion to our neighbours. The first knock and ringing of the doorbell resulted in silence. My son said “let me try” and he knocked as a child would (‘Do you want to build a snowman’ type of knock).

The door opened slightly and slowly. He asked “Are you the neighbours staying opposite?” I said yes. He accepted our food and asked the names of my two children. We were asked to wait for some time while he went back to get something. He had a small hello kitty bag for my daughter ready! “She always smiles at me” he said and thanked us. We felt so relieved that we finally made peace with our neighbours.

That night, we gave thanks to the Lord for allowing a miracle to happen. Only God could have made it possible.

It was evident that the neighbour’s hearts were softened. They could have declined our offer and even shut the door on our faces. God was at work in their lives as well as mine. I admit that I sinned many times and even complained about them to others. Whenever there was smoke, I would be enraged and a lot of unhealthy thoughts would cross my mind. Immediately I would start drafting an email in my mind and eventually get very angry. It was only when I let go and continued to pray that God began to work in me. He is Sovereign and allows things to happen so that even in such moments, He is moulding and shaping me to be like Him.

The next morning, there was a knock on our door and our neighbour had ice cream and chocolates for the kids. It has been almost a month since we became truly neighbours and we have received toys, fruits and warm greetings from them. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have friendly neighbours. We only prayed that God would change our neighbours. God did far more abundantly than all that we asked or thought. He changed us in the process as well. To Him be the glory!

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ms Loliro Sani

May 1, 2016