My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, until mid-December 2021, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.
During the last article, we learned about growing through stopping fretting. The Psalms tell us not to fret, for it leads to evil. Short term it can lead to drunkenness, and giving up on life. Long term, it can lead to bad life decisions that have disastrous consequences.
Worry in any form is bad for your health. It also wastes your time. Corrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” [quoted in Huffington Post, Amanda Chan, “9 Scientific Ways to Stop worrying” December 6, 2017]
Caroline Thorpe of the Touching Hearts ministry, says that excess stress, which is connected to worry, leads to burn out. It’s not the amount of hours you work, it’s the stress that grinds you into the ground. [Caroline Thorpe, Touching Hearts Course, Talk on bitterness]. Fretting is a heavy burden that you don’t need to carry. Fretting actually focuses your imagination into the far future, as you worry about things that may not happen and forgetting about what’s going on right now. Choose instead to TRUST God. Live in the moment. It is good to plan for your future. Goal setting is good, but this is with positive steps towards that goal. Jesus reminds us Matt 6:25-27: “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Jesus thought worrying was a waste of time. The Apostle Paul also encourages us to pray, and trust.
There is a sure-fire way to stop worry. This is to begin to see other’s needs, especially at Christmas. Once we pray, spend time with and thank God, our eyes can turn to our neighbour. How important is it to love and help our neighbour? Here’s Jesus’ take on that. Listen to Matt 22:37-39. “ Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is almost as important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’[f] Jesus shows us how important it is to really see our neighbour, love them and be there for them. This isn’t just a wave across the street. This is actively looking out for each other. This is loving our neighbour with the overflow of love that comes from time with the Lord in prayer and worship.
How do most people see their neighbours? Is it just our next door neighbour, or does this “relationship title” go beyond the boundaries of a little neighbourhood? How about the people we work with? How about our school mates and teachers? And the people at church? I mention different circles of people where we are connected. When Tony and I used to go into Worcester Primary School, we spent an hour with the grade ones. We are family, but we are also neighbours. The retirement village we used to live in and the school is in the same Langerug neighbourhood. These children are like a rainbow of colours, races and cultures. They were everything from Brazilian, Chinese, Afrikaaner, English, Malay, Indian, and different black tribes. All the children were lovable, inquisitive, and usually kind. They were learning how to reach out to their Aunt Laurie-Ann and Uncle Tony.
Many people in the United States grew up watching the show “Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood.” Mr. Rogers, was actually a pastor. He had a gift of showing kindness to others. This was a genuine gift, and he loved to notice and touch others. He saw them, he noticed them. The neighbours weren’t invisible to him. It didn’t matter what gender, race or culture the person came from. All of them were loved. His show envisioned a wonderful place where neighbours are noticed. This scenario may work on TV, but can this work in real life? South Africa has a charity called love thy neighbour dot org. It’s a non-profit company that is a platform for other ministries. They have a motto, which is “kindness begins with me.” Kindness does, although it is a gift from God. Some of the ministries featured on this website work with the blind, deaf, down-syndrome and many other worthy needs. Cape Town’s Bo Kaap neighbourhood also has a Mediterranean restaurant called “Love Thy Neighbour.” I’m not sure if they actually do that, but the name does draw attention to kindness.
Who is our neighbour? The ancient Israelite understanding of neighbour is one nearby who is also an Israelite. Unfortunately, they didn’t look outside of their box. Gentiles, were not like them, therefore they weren’t considered. Yet, Lev. 19:33–34 reminds them to consider the foreigners among them: “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. 34 Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” This means that the foreigners, or sojourners, are also neighbours. Tony and I are soujourners; we’re long-term visitors in South Africa. And yet, we are neighbours within our retirement village. We are neighbours to our church friends who live just outside the village. We have coffee, tea, or a braai with some of our neighbours. One of them, Willem, has even helped us with a ride to church, when our car was unusable after Christmas 2019, just a few days after we had a Christmas dinner with a township family that we are very fond of. Willem is a great neighbour. He intentionally grew a lovely garden on his corner lot property. He did this so that he could work on the garden and talk to whoever passed by. He would wave to the drivers who would drive past, so eventually they would stop and actually speak to him. Willem considers this a ministry. He notices people. When he speaks to you, he is filled with kindness and he actually hears what you are saying.
So to open up our definition of neighbour, Jesus includes the Samaritan who helped a badly injured Jew. Two of his own kind ignored him, simply because they were too busy with their own lives. So instead a ‘half-breed’ Samaritan, someone outside their own community, is the one to help the injured man. This story must have shocked Jesus’ listeners. This would be like someone from the lowest part of your society rising up and making a difference instead of who you think would help others. Say this helper was someone from the townships, and they were helping someone from one of the richer neighbourhoods in Worcester. That would get your attention. Listen to the words from Luke 10: 30-37: Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 “By chance, a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[d] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. 33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[e] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbour to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
So to be a good neighbour, is to show mercy when it is needed. Mercy and kindness go a long way to neighbours that hide in the shadows. Many people are like that. They are unnoticed and lonely. All they need is a little love. All they need is to be noticed with the love of Jesus. When Ruth arrived in Israel with her mother in law Naomi, she was a widow. She was allowed to glean in the fields, especially that of Boaz, who was related to her mother in law. Boaz was a good neighbour to Naomi and Ruth, and eventually he married Ruth. Our neighbours don’t always look like us. They may be a refugee from Sudan or Iraq. They may be a persecuted Christian from North Korea, or Somalia. They may be a single parent family with nine kids. That single mom just may need a little help getting to the grocery store since she doesn’t have a car. The little boy down the road may have just lost his dad. He will need a godly man to be like a dad to him. Open your eyes. But when you do, don’t just follow the need, for you’ll see that everywhere. If you drive into the Avian Park township, as Tony very often does, you will encounter children that will approach your car. They will say, “Give me one rand. One rand.” One rand is currently nine Canadian cents. They’ll use that to fill their bellies with cheap chips. Those chips may have been the only thing they’ve had to eat all day. So there is need.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, listen to Holy Spirit. Who is HE leading you towards? That is the person to stop for. That person is your neighbour. We call that stopping for the one. Sometimes that person is an obviously needy, hungry child from a township. Other times that person may be someone in your family. Say it could be your cousin that has been secretly depressed and lonely.
How can you stop for the one? How can you love your neighbour? I believe dot com has a convenient list of eleven ways to love your neighbour as yourself. Let’s journey through this list. [Courtney Whiting, 10 Ways to love your neighbor as yourself” https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/10-ways-to-love-your-neighbor-as-yourself.html]
Cortney Whiting gives us her perspective, which was changed by the words of her daughter. She says, “Several months ago, as we drove through our neighborhood, my daughter pointed out that the “mean lady’s” house was for sale. This woman had done nothing to my child to evoke such a title. However, in her yard were no less than seven “No Trespassing” signs. Apparently, my daughter overheard a comment I made concerning the signs and thus, the title was born. I immediately felt convicted for my behavior.” I never knew much about the woman who lived down the street except that her name was Mary, she was older, and she lived alone. I waved to her when I passed by, but I never stopped to introduce myself. This was partly because I was so consumed with my own agenda, that I never opened my heart to a potential need. Another reason for this missed opportunity was I simply prejudged her as not having anything in common with myself. Popular culture often teaches to support others of similar viewpoints, interests, or beliefs. But Jesus’ command challenges the cultural norm. In Luke 10, a lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered with the story of what we call, The Good Samaritan.” Again, the story of the Good Samaritan is the best example of showing how to love our neighbour. Here are eleven top ways to love our neighbour.
Number one. Love is pro-active. The Samaritan saw the victim and went to him. He stopped on his way. If we are to learn from this example, we need to be aware of those around us. Who is God placing on your heart to reach out to? Number two. Love is observant. The Samaritan first SAW the hurting man. Granted, a beaten man on the road is hard to ignore. We’ve seen one in Worcester, and Tony has moved him off the road into a safer place. Number three. Love is compassionate. The Samaritan went beyond seeing him and feeling sorry for him. He responded to his needs. Some people just need a loving hand up (rather than a hand-out.) Number four. Love is responsive. He bound the man’s wounds with the resources he had on hand. Sometimes you have what is needed right on hand. Have you noticed a specific need in your community? Are you being led to meet it, just once? Number five. Love is costly. After the Samaritan tended to the man, he spent some of his own resources. Loving his neighbour cost the Samaritan at least two days wages, and his time. Sometimes we have let three of our My Father’s House girls stay with us overnight on our couch. This was one at a time. This cost us time, resources, food and sometimes money. For example, money for things like pads, school uniforms, electricity, bread, or a care package of emergency food. How can you bless another? How is God leading you? Don’t leave it to charities and government agencies to help. They are already overloaded. There are forty soup kitchens in Avian Park alone. Yet they only help specific people. There is no room for other needy people. We know people who have fallen through the cracks, and a few times, we were led to help. Number six. Love is inopportune. It’s not convenient. It wasn’t easy for the Samaritan to lift the injured Jew onto a donkey. Yet he did it. I can remember a few people who went out of their way to help us when we were stranded in our home for eight days. The car was broken, and both the mechanic and the car rental place were closed for holiday. So we had friends and neighbours who brought us care packages and drove us to church or the mall. This is something Tony did for others on a regular basis. It made us feel both humbled and loved to receive this. Others have driven me home from events when Tony just wasn’t available. I am thankful that they went out of their way.
Number seven. Love is healing. The Samaritan not only bound the man’s wounds, but he had him rest in an inn. He took care of him. This reminds me of one of Tony’s friends at the hospice he visits regularly. His name is Moses. Tony comes and brings him fruit, and has even given him rides back to his home in Touws River. Otherwise he would have been stuck with no transport, waiting in a public hospital. Tony was led to take care of his friend. Number eight. Love is sacrificial. The Samaritan gave two denarri to the innkeeper. This was two days wages, with no thought of repayment. It’s not just about our sacrifice. We give out of what Jesus has already given: eternal life, and abundant life, full of love, peace, forgiveness and so much more. Number nine. Love is communal. The Samaritan asked the innkeeper to help. Sometimes it’s necessary to involve others in the process. It is essential to network when dealing with needs. It’s been important for us, as well as the people we work with. We have found a real safety net in Worcester, if you know where to go. Sometimes we have been part of that safety net, and we trust others will fill in our gap, after we leave. Number ten. Love is promising. When the Samaritan left the inn, he offered and promised to pay for any other needed expenses. When we love others, we need to follow-up and follow-through in our care. This is the beauty of long term service, or even more to work within your own community, where you live. You don’t have to be a missionary to be a good neighbour!
Number eleven. Love is merciful. The story of the Samaritan is of a man who showed mercy on his neighbour. Mercy is compassion in action. Mercy is in meeting the need, not just feeling it. Mercy has follow-though, which is why it’s a ministry. When I think of mercy, I think of Heidi Baker, with multiple Mozambican children on her lap. I think of Mother Theresa loving those in the Calcutta slums. And I think of my husband Tony when he is with children and teens. He has a mercy heart, and I love him for it, as well as many other things. Number twelve. Love shows no partiality. Cortney Whiting says, “My neighbour Mary has since moved away, and a new family has bought her home. While I could wallow in guilt that I responded more like the priest or the Levite to her, I am challenging myself to treat my new neighbors like the Samaritan would. For love shows no partiality.” So being a good neighbour is to be one that is not afraid to act on Holy Spirit’s compassion. We see the need, and sense the active compassion rise in us. Holy Spirit, what would you have us do? What do they need? What do you want to do in their life, Lord?
Lord, we offer ourselves to you. Thank you for the times where we have been helped and given mercy like the Samaritan did to the broken Jew. May you give us opportunities to reach out and help with whatever they need to receive. We cannot do this on our own Lord, so we lean entirely on you. Give us the compassion, the resources and the mercy that overflows onto whoever it touches. Thank you for your mercy towards US, Lord. And give us adequate rest between these divine appointments. Thank you that you provide that too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God (WTGIG) podcast page on the coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the “Listen” drop-down menu). Click here: (https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/wtgig-podcasts.html) and scroll down to #73! If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!
Updates: For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I was declared chemically cancer free as of February 2021, but still in post-cancer treatments (lymphedema massage, physio, medications, scans and bloodwork). Now my husband Tony has both skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer). He has also been given a probable diagnosis of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lung lining. However, the pleural fluid that was generated from the tumour is not malignant, so we’re not sure. When we return to Canada, after quarantine, Tony will go to the best hospital in Canada for treatment, with his CT scan, report and doctor’s letter. We pray this will help the process, so they can continue the treatment by another CT scan and a biopsy of the tumour. It’s unfortunate that there is a wait, with the unstable travel due to the new omicron variant. We are in a difficult place, but it’s one that God can and will carry us through in some way. We just can’t afford any more treatment in South Africa.
Otherwise, we still have medical debt and we are working towards that with art commissions and donations. God’s peace is something that I’m clinging to as we plan our way back to Canada. We also have a hiccup with Tony’s medical visa, which isn’t sufficient to carry us to our departure date of December 18th. Add to that five covid tests (two in South Africa, one in the US, and two in Canada, despite being vaccinated. Ah well, it’s just what we have to go through to get back.
After our quarantine, we plan to stay with and care for my frail 92 year old dad, as well as have Tony treated. Thanks for coming alongside us on our journey. Being an overcomer is truly a process. We still need help. Tony has significant medical bills as well for lung issues, eye surgery, urologist (who is monitoring the prostate cancer), and I have debt as well (post cancer treatment, physiotherapy, MRI, medications).
Please click here for the medical campaign page to get more info: https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/medical-campaign.html. We are still crowdfunding to cover the post cancer treatments and Tony’s eye operation. If you feel led to contribute, please do so via our PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod If you do, please introduce yourself and say that you read “Ways to Grow in God.” It would really bless us! If you’re led to pray instead, we welcome your prayers and please do contact us.
L-A’s colouring books: If you are in South Africa, and would like to purchase one of L-A’s colouring books, they are available at LeRoux and Fourie Wineshop on R60 beside Cape Lime (between Nuy and Robertson) and at Slow Living Café in Worcester. Or you can order one (or more) printed for you through Takealot.com through this link:
Colouring with Jesus is available here:
Colouring with Jesus 2 is available here:
The books are available online, through us personally (for a short time), and through the above shops. They will also be available through Legacy Relay run by Louis and Carica LeGrange. After we return to Canada, we plan to republish the devotional colouring books in English using landscape format. Bless you and thank you for your support!