By Mark Canady, District Representative, Western
Growing up as a preacher’s kid/Village Missionary kid had its privileges and its consequences. I grew up under the neighborhood watch.
Growing Up Under the Neighborhood Watch
One privilege was having built-in aunts and uncles and grandparents, and EVERYONE knew who you were. One consequence was having built in aunts and uncles and grandparents, and EVERYONE knew who you were. This fact brought both pleasure and pain as I grew up. The pleasure was that I had so many folks who loved me, cared for me and prayed for me. The pain – at least I thought this at the time – was that everyone was watching me. Everyone!
That explains why my brothers and I found ourselves in a lineup at the local post office in Pierceville, Kansas. One of us had broken a “family rule” and the neighborhood postmaster knew the rules and had turned us in. When confronted by the family violation, all of us boys denied the deed. We were marched over to the post office behind the parsonage, and lined up right in front of the criminal’s profiles who were always posted back in the 60s (true story). That day, Jimmy was selected from the lineup. (He was not guilty. I was.) Jimmy received the punishment.
When the Neighborhood Watches Out For You
Now, fast-forward 30 years to another neighborhood watch experience. I’ve been a Village Missionary for 10 years, serving a field on the coast of Oregon. The post office, grocery store and video store are all in the same building. My task for the night was to find an appropriate video for our Friday family night – a task I am horrible at. To my delight, the videos were divided into categories. Believing the Westerns would be a safe area, I quickly picked a wholesome-looking western and brought it to the counter.
The lady at the counter took one look at the video and said, “I ain’t gonna rent this to you!”
I replied, “Excuse me, what did you say?”
She said, “Ain’t you the new preacher in town?” I replied that I was, and she said, “Don’t Vern and Diane attend your church?”
“Yes, they do!” I said.
“Well, last night Diane rented this video for her family, and she was back a half hour later telling me this isn’t fit to show to her family. And if Vern and Diane can’t show it to their family, then you can’t show it to yours!”
I quickly thanked her and placed the video back on the shelf. Because she could see me from the checkout counter, I began to lift videos up one at a time until she nodded in affirmation that this video was fit for me and my family. And for the next four years any time I rented a movie I knew I must get her approval, and she got a kick out of this process. Interestingly, this lady, to my knowledge, had never attended Sunday school or church, but she knew well how a Christian, and especially how a preacher, should live.
Our Role in the Neighborhood Watch
Whether we know it or not, the local neighborhood, church, pastor and Christian family watch exists. It’s the neighborhood watch.
Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Richard Baxter says this well in his classic book, The Reformed Pastor. He writes, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine… lest you unsay with your lives what you say with your tongues; and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your own labors…”
Dear ones, our walk with Christ and for Christ is so important, NOT so that they can see us, but so they can see the work of Christ through us. By this we glorify God, and people might come to place their faith in the Savior!