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LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOUR HAS NEVER TASTED SO GOOD
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By Laura J. Davis

LONDON/ON - Pancakes and coffee were the order of the day at Darrin and Teri Tobin's house in London, Ontario, this past Canada Day. Teri has lived in her neighbourhood for almost 16 years and during that time has always wanted to reach out to her neighbours. She believed that God put them in their neighbourhood for a reason, but in a society where everyone seems to be hidden behind closed doors, how would she get them out of their houses?

Then, in the fall of 2009 while studyin "Just Walk across the Room" by Bill Hybels, with her life group, she was challenged to build relationships with her neighbours. At the same time, her Pastor was doing a sermon series on "Sowing the Seeds" - using the gifts we've been given for God's Glory. She explained to me an acronym her Pastor was teaching called Mateo. Mateo in English is Matthew which means Gift of God, but for her pastor's teaching it stands for Money, Ability, Time, Energy and Opportunity.

"By sowing seeds", Teri explains, "we use our money, ability, time, energy and opportunities." She thought Canada Day would be a good time to get to know her neighbours and decided on a pancake breakfast. With the help of her family she distributed 108 fliers around her crescent and personally knocked on each door to extend an invite to their Canada Day celebration. If no one was home, she left the invitation anyway and prayed they would come. And then she waited and amazing things began to happen. The neighbourhood became involved. One neighbour showed up at her door with pancake mix. Others offered extra chairs for the event and on July 1st starting at 8:00 AM and ending sometime after 11:00 AM, the Tobin's served close to 50 of their neighbour's breakfast. This event was such a success that it has become a regular event her neighbours now look forward to.

When asked if she had the opportunity to share her faith with her neighbours, Teri replied, "No. That wasn't my intention. I wanted an opportunity to build relationships with my neighbours. I also did not gather the Christians that I know live on this street, because I didn't want them making this a project. I really saw this whole thing as an opportunity to love my neighbour."

As one of those neighbours, who enjoyed a pancake and a coffee, I can verify that the day was a huge success. I was delighted by the relaxing atmosphere that allowed strangers to sit down together for a meal and really get to know one another. More than that, I was reminded once again, how important it is to love my neighbour and I hope that the relationships I began will continue to grow and prosper throughout the year.