A neighborhood transformed through prayer

I have lived in a Northern California neighborhood for over 30 years. They have been busy and productive years focused around my family obligations, work, and church activities. My neighborhood has always been the place where I would come home at the end of the day, raise the drawbridge, and mind my own business.

Over the years, the neighborhood changed as families arrived and departed. My wife and I never learned the names of the new arrivals. It was a neighborhood of strangers. People relished their privacy, built tall fences, grew vegetation to block prying eyes, and kept pretty much to themselves. What a contrast to the neighborhood I knew as a child, where people sat on their front porches and greeted neighbors as they strolled by. Now, in our neighborhood the values and priorities of life had shifted. People seemed busier, more absorbed in accumulating material things.

One day, the anonymity and indifference that pervaded this pleasant suburban "hood" was shattered and replaced with feelings of shock and fear. A burglar discovered our little enclave and began audaciously breaking into a number of homes. These break-ins occurred during the day when people were at work. Within a fairly short period of time, and all within a radius of three or four blocks, 14 break-ins had taken place. The sheriff was alerted, and stakeouts were set up. Yet the burglaries continued. News of these events circulated among the neighbors through a notice in the local paper's "Crime Watch" column, and then through spontaneous discussions around mailboxes or on walks in the neighborhood. During these discussions, several single women expressed their fear of a possible face-to-face confrontation with the thief. People talked about arming themselves for protection.

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'Have a large day!'
January 19, 2004

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