Jesus spent much of his public ministry healing the sick and practicing other supernatural activities. He invites us to carry on his public ministry by asking in his name for His kingdom to come and His will to be done. I have yet to find anyone who does His work perfectly, but as apprentices, He asks us to join Him by praying for the sick to be healed or anything that will bring his Father glory.

I have found that the Lord loves to answer these prayers, and I try to take every opportunity I can to ask people if I can pray for them when they are in a difficult situation or have health problems. I am amazed how God responds. When I take the risk and ask someone if I can pray for them . . . God responds. The faith is not whether God can heal. The faith is whether I am willing to step out and ask people if I can pray for them. Faith, as John Wimber used to say, is spelled R-I-S-K.

Once when I was talking to one of my neighbors, I noticed that one of her arms was so discolored that it was almost black. She had fallen into a rosebush and her arm was seriously infected from the thorns. She had chosen not to go to the doctor. I asked her if I could place my hand on her arm and pray for her, and she agreed. Weeks later, my wife and I stopped by her house and she thanked me for praying for her. She showed us her arm and said, “Look! It’s all healed.” I believe in my heart that God is pleased to heal in these unique situations.

These kinds of encounters with our neighbors reveals to them there is a compassionate God who loves them, understands their pain and wants to bring healing and restoration. It flies in the face of the commonly accepted notion that God is angry, judgmental and distant. It is through such encounters that we have the unique privilege to nudge our neighbors into a relationship with a loving God.

When Jo and I were first married, we lived in an apartment complex. We intentionally got to know our neighbors and looked out for them. It was a friendly environment. Our building had a good mix of older and younger people. One of those neighbors, an older man named Don, took a liking to me. One day I invited Don to church, and much to my surprise, he began to attend regularly. Once, at the back of our little chapel, he said to me, “I have been watching your life and I want what you have.” After a short explanation of the Gospel, Don made a commitment to Christ. Not long after this, Don asked if my pastor and I could come over and pray for his wife, Connie, who was Jewish. Connie had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and the doctors did not give her long to live. She could not even get out of bed on her own. My pastor and I joined Don in the living room of his apartment to pray for Connie. When we finished praying, Connie came bounding out of her bedroom yelling, “You did this to me! You did this to me!” And then she started doing jumping jacks in front of us. We were amazed! My pastor shared the Gospel with her and she invited the Lord into her life. A week later Connie slipped away into the presence of the Lord. Don asked if I would conduct a small memorial service for her in their apartment. We had a sweet gathering and many of those in the apartment building joined us to celebrate Connie’s life. She had added so much life and laughter to our little community, and her presence was going to be missed.

When love and care thrive in a neighborhood, transformation of both people and the community is inevitable.

– Taken from Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God

Listen to Bruce Zachary's experience with Neighborhood Initiative.

Listen to Dallas Willard's word to pastors and leaders about Neighborhood Initiative.

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