CAN ONE FAMILY CHANGE A NEIGHBORHOOD by Jeff Heidrick
Myy wife and I got involved with Forge about three years ago. We had recently moved from an isolated place on a highway to a cul-de-sac in town. We were super stoked to have neighbors again, and we wanted to be intentional about sharing and showing Jesus to our new neighborhood.
At the same time we were becoming fast friends with a family who were already amazing examples of this in their own neighborhood. They invited us to explore Forge with them. We were excited to learn more about what is means to be missionaries to our neighborhood.
Through some of the curriculum and training provided by Forge and our local church, we started developing tools that have helped shape our mission in our cul-de-sac. We learned to map out our neighborhood, which in turn helped us to get to know more neighbors. We were also able to process with like-minded missionaries about what was working, what wasn’t working, and steal missional ideas from each other. The conversations that have come from our Forge network have been absolutely empowering and instrumental in our development in living as sent people.
Getting to know our neighbors and engage in the community of the cul-de-sac started slow, and if I’m being completely honest, it was super frustrating at times. After what seemed like forever, we finally started making deeper relationships. We were becoming an intricate part of the community, and in some areas we were creating community where there was none before. We have developed varying levels of relationships with our neighbors from intensely deep to shallow and superficial. At times we have become shoulders to cry on for some neighbors, ears to listen to for others, and in one instance we have become lifelong best friends.
We really connected with the family that lived directly across the cul-de-sac from us. They have kids our age, both wives have been hairstylists, and us husbands bonded over sports and the love of good beer. As we grew closer as friends, the conversations we had when walking to our local bar, or sitting in their hot tub grew deeper. It was clear at the beginning that the husband had some major issues with Jesus and Christianity. For a year and a half, he and I would have fantastic talks about Jesus and what it means to be His follower. I’ve never seen the Holy Spirit so obviously at work in someone's life before. He and the Spirit were wrestling big time, and I (for the most part) just watched in wonder at the changes in his heart. Just last Easter, I had the amazing privilege of baptizing my neighbor and best friend. I now look to him for inspiration as his passion for Jesus is contagious. He and his whole family are pivotal members of our community and local church.
Our neighbors are now joining in on the mission to our neighborhood. We are now partners on mission. Forge is dedicated to disciplining local missionaries who hopefully will also start disciplining local missionaries someday. Forge has tools to train, lessons to teach, but what they also offer is cohort/community that spurs one another on to living as a people sent like Jesus, and by Jesus.