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Oh, the People You’ll Meet

What is God doing in the lives of the people around you? Do you take the time to find out?

During World War II, Anne Frank hid with her family about 12 miles from the home of Casper ten Boom. A Dutch Christian, ten Boom hid Jews in the Haarlem home he shared with his daughters, Betsie and Corrie. While “The Hiding Place” remains my favorite retelling of the account of the ten Boom family, I enjoyed discovering a new book on them a couple weeks ago.

“The Hiding Place” mostly focuses on the perspective of Corrie, but in “The Watchmaker’s Daughter,” author Larry Loftis compiles multiple perspectives in chronological order. A chapter clearly focused on Corrie might be followed by a chapter about Anne Frank or Nazi officers in the Netherlands. As I read the book, I marveled at how all these stories overlapped. While Corrie strategized how to get more ration cards or smuggle Jews out to rural areas, Anne Frank wrote in her diary in an attic.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Aren’t all our stories interconnected? Sure, we think we operate independently, especially those of us in seemingly self-sufficient, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps western cultures. We may see some of our friends infrequently — or go years without seeing them at all. But as Christians, we are the body of Christ. Nothing can break our God-given bond.

No boring people

As the saying goes, “No man is an island.” But it’s not just that we need other humans. Expanding our focus to include other people shows us how much of the world exists outside our own little corners of it.

No matter where you live, I guarantee someone is doing something interesting. Maybe it’s a retiree who volunteers his time at a local school. Maybe a homeless ministry serves more people than you’d think. Look around your community. Who is serving other people around you? Who is making a difference? Why not reach out to them? Take them to lunch and thank them for their service; ask them how they noticed this need or why they decided to do this work. If they’re Christians, ask how their faith motivates what they do. You may pick up some helpful advice and guidance for your own decisions. Regardless, you’ll gain a fascinating glimpse into how God is working in your community.

On the same team

I wonder how much Corrie ten Boom knew about other Christians’ work in her country during the Nazi occupation. Obviously, resistance workers concealed a lot of their activities for safety purposes, so Corrie didn’t know everything. And she didn’t need to; other underground members gave her fake names to contact for ration cards or constructing a secret room. But even in anonymity, their stories wove together as they co-labored to save lives.

I don’t live in enemy-occupied territory, and secrecy is rarely necessary. But do I know what’s going on in my community? In my church? My extended family? My friends? How do I weave my story into others’ lives? How do you?

Pray. Always start here. A lot of my prayers focus on my own needs and desires. But how often do I set aside time to take others’ needs to Jesus? My church lists names on the church calendar as prayer reminders, and an elder emails out each week’s specific prayer requests. I can also pray for others — local leaders, pastors of other churches, neighbors, nonprofit leaders — even if I don’t know their specific prayer requests.

Be intentional. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move — be willing to seek others out and meet in person when possible. Talk about what’s going on in their lives (and pick up some prayer ideas).

Pay attention. Ask local nonprofits and ministries what changes they’ve noticed in their work. Sign up for their newsletters or follow them on social media. What is God doing in your church? Neighborhood? City?

Against the tide

It’s easy to focus only on the details of my little world. My needs, my calendar, my schedule. But every day I live and breathe within a few miles of thousands of people. How much do I think about how God is working in others’ lives? How can I expand my world to see more of God at work?

As C.S. Lewis said, “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” Every person we ever meet is made in the image of God and will live forever. Everyone in your family, neighborhood, city and church reflects God’s glory in unique ways. What is God doing in the lives of the people we know? Do we take the time to find out?

God’s work isn’t limited to times of war or enemy occupation. Every day He’s threading our stories into the tapestry He is creating. Oh, to have eyes to see more of His work.

Copyright 2023 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved. 

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About the Author

Lauren Dunn
Lauren Dunn

Lauren Dunn is an education reporter for World News Group. She loves stories (especially the good ones), making pizza (usually double pepperoni), and spending time with friends and family. Lauren has lived most of her life in Wichita, Kan., but still regularly gets lost when driving around town.

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