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JACK THE NEIGHBOR


Someone in Elgin once had a neighbor named Jack. Jack was a tough man. He worked hard, he drank hard, he fought hard, and he was harsh and gruff in his manner. Most people were afraid of Jack.


But this one neighbor got brave and said hello to him over the fence one day. He started a conversation with him, which was pretty one-sided at first. However, every chance he got, the neighbor started talking to Jack, and even went over and visited him in his house. He would sometimes bring him a fresh loaf of homemade bread that his wife had made, or a batch of cookies. He just tried to be neighborly and share the good things he had with him.


One day the neighbor, who was a Christ-follower, brought up the subject of heaven. He asked Jack if he believed in heaven. At first Jack said he didn’t want to talk about religion, and that was the end of the conversation. But a couple years later, Jack’s son was killed in a boating accident. The neighbor came over to tell Jack how sorry he was about the loss of his son. Overcome with grief, Jack just broke down and cried like a baby in front of his neighbor. The neighbor didn’t know what to do, so he just put a hand on his shoulder and let him cry.


Eventually, Jack started talking. He said that his son was the only child he had, and that he felt like he had failed him as a father. His son had tried to talk to him before about God and religion, but Jack told him religion was for people who were weak and who needed something to make them feel good about themselves.


So Jack asked his neighbor, "Do you think my boy is in heaven right now?" The neighbor replied, "If he was trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and was living His life for God, then he is certainly in heaven right now." Jack thought about that for a moment and said, "I hope he sees his mother there." The neighbor said, "Jack, there is no reason why he cannot see his father there too."


A few months later, Jack came over to his neighbor’s house and said, "I’m ready!" "Ready for what?" asked the neighbor. "I’m ready to get right with God," Jack said. They talked and the neighbor was able to pray with Jack and help him start a relationship with Jesus.


This neighbor had been praying for Jack for over three years. You can imagine his joy when he finally saw the answer to his prayers.


(From a sermon by Mark Opperman, "The Joy of the Harvest" 1/12/2009)

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