[by Willy Fraipont]
Three years ago in Liege, we moved to a new neighbourhood! We’re now much closer to where we “work”. But I always insist that our work is actually a ministry, although it does have its commercial side (unfortunately books do cost something). But for us the Bookshop has always been a means of spreading the Word of God, but it’s also a beacon: a light in the darkness, a place where those seeking God can find answers.
For us the new values put forward by the BEM have acted as a catalyst and a challenge. Integration – yes, it’s true we’ve been members of the local Shopkeepers’ Association for some years now, but we have to acknowledge that most of the time we’re inside our four walls waiting for people to come in. So why not go out and find them? Or better still, go out and get involved in their lives! Near our shop is a café where you can just go along to meet people and chat. About fifty people go there regularly to talk about what’s happening in their lives, eat together and have fun. Since we started going along and joining in, we find ourselves saying hello to more people we pass on the street. At the bus stop, a lady looking at the timetable greets me warmly. “Hallo, Willy, I’ve seen several things I want in your shop; I’ll drop in later…”
We looked round our neighbourhood to see what we could manage to get involved in. Why don’t you do the same? It could be one of your hobbies, gardening for example, helping with the food-bank or anything else that’s going on where you live. Creating opportunities to demonstrate Jesus first of all, and then giving a word of testimony as and when appropriate. Shouldn’t that be the natural out-working of God’s life in us? Another great place to meet children and their parents is a homework club. Becoming integrated in your neighbourhood – what does that actually mean, if not getting involved with their lives, being like them as much as you reasonably can, loving them, and being there for them? And, if you do have to say no to certain things, be ready to give your reasons calmly and respectfully.
Paul says, “… I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10 v.33.
At the end of this magazine the Mission is challenging us all to integrate more– so why not take up the gauntlet? It’s an opportunity to change the way we look at those around us and to try living among them in the name of Christ. It can be just as simple as that….