Green Peppers and Good Neighbors

Jesus directed us to “love our neighbors” (see verses below). He’s given my husband and I the desire to love our neighbors. Who would have known he would use a dog and a garden to help make relationships with our neighbors possible?

Our daughters gave us a purebred Irish setter for Christmas two years ago. God has used Freddy, this loveable, almost 3-year-old pup, to befriend our next door neighbors, a family from a Muslim background. Anita*, the wife and mother of several young children, is a nurse.  My husband, Carl, walks Freddy daily, and the kids of this family love to come out and see the dog and pet him.  Thank you, God, for using Freddy to love our neighbors.

Carl also dabbles in gardening. For 30 years, he’s tried off and on to grow vegetables--sometimes we get a few tomatoes or peppers. This summer, God blessed us with hundreds of peppers and tomatoes! It turns out that our neighbors love green peppers, jalapeño peppers, and banana peppers.  Their kids love them so much that they eat them raw as a snack.

A few weeks ago, I had picked produce to share with these neighbors and was getting ready to go to their house when I heard a knock at the door. It was Anita*, all smiles, with fresh, warm sweet bread.  She wanted to thank us for the peppers. So we exchanged produce and bread. Thank you, Jesus, for using our garden to make love real to our neighbors.

What a joy to have God lead us so simply, using our dog and the garden. God’s answering our prayers and giving us the desire of our heart--relationships with our neighbors. We also are praying for and desiring a sense of community in our neighborhood--we want to build bridges of love. 

So as you live your life, love your neighbors as Jesus told us to do in Matthew 22:37-39: “And He [Jesus] said to him [a Jewish leader], ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Pray for your neighbors and know that God will answer and use you, sometimes in unexpected ways.

* Name changed.

Colleen Christenson, BSN, RN, joined NCF staff in 2023 as a nurse staff minister. She’s been involved in NCF for years, including leading a nurse group in Charlotte, NC.

Curious about NCF nurse groups? These small groups share the common purpose of providing an authentic community that witnesses to the power of Jesus Christ to change people’s lives through forgiveness, hope, and reconciliation. Professional nurse groups provide a Christian community of prayer, Bible study, and outreach to others. Get more info or get involved via the our website.