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Our Neighbor Thomas

JULY 2018

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by Jacob Devries Jacob is a member of EM's 2018 Summer Staff, leading mission trips in the Eastern part of the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. He and his teammates work with teams on construction projects, help lead Kids Club for local youth, and build meaningful relationships in the community.

The first time I met Thomas, who lives right next door to the church, he eagerly showed me a telescope he had found and refurbished. You could see practically anything in the Bisti, New Mexico landscape with that thing, including the mountains on the moon.

Throughout our time there I was surprised to learn that Thomas never actually went to church even though he lived not 20 feet from it. But God was about to change that.

The volunteer mission team this week, a youth group from Easley Presbyterian Church, assisted Thomas in replacing his sister Ruby’s roof—in 100-degree weather. Over the course of a hot and tiring week of work, Thomas and those who helped with the roof grew close. Coming from a line of traditional belief, Thomas had struggled to connect with the church, never truly feeling comfortable enough to attend the service right next door.

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I got a chance to spend a lot of time with Thomas, really getting to know him. Only God truly knows his heart, but I got a glimpse into who he truly is and saw some awesome things through Thomas during my time with him. This week, for the first time in three years, Thomas joined the church for Wednesday night service where many of us got a chance to share testimony and songs. After that, Thomas also came with us for a bonfire out in the desert.

The entire group prayed together and Thomas willingly joined, even sharing the “highs and lows” of his day (this is what the group did to debrief). I could see the genuine thankfulness and joy coming from him.

At the end of the week, Thomas pulled me over and gave me a phone holder he had made for me out of leather. Etched on the front was a cross. Throughout my time in Bisti, Thomas has selflessly shared his possessions, thoughts, and joys with me and the team. He is never afraid of sharing life with another person and that is something I really admire.

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I am pretty sure he considered us friends before we even met. Thomas is just one example of how to love thy neighbor. Even though it took three years to get him to come to church, just the fact that he came is a miracle itself. Think of all our neighbors, near and far, that we could connect with, learn to love, and bring God into their lives. Loving our neighbors can be the greatest blessing we can bring to those around us, if only we have the patience and courage to see what God will with it.

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