Who is My Neighbor?

The Lord tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but who is our neighbor?

In many ways the Lord showed this Nortel location who our neighbor is just days before Christmas this [past] year [1997]. By His grace we have been touched, allowing us to minister to another in the work place.

The official notification was sent out to all employees, but actually only received by a handful. Slowly through word of mouth the crime against Joe became known to me days before Christmas and the Lord gave me a burden to help. What follows is part of that official notification and my testimony of God’s grace toward His people.

On Monday, December 15, 1997, Joe …, a cafeteria worker at Nortel’s Humboldt Street facility, was brutally assaulted as he walked home from his second job in the city of Rochester. Joe suffered broken ribs, a broken nose and other injuries; his clothes were almost entirely stripped from his body, and he was left unconscious on the sidewalk for several hours before being taken to a hospital. He is now recovering at home and will be unable to work for an unspecified period of time.

Joe is a quiet person who keeps to himself, very respectful to others and anonymous in many ways. His pride would never ask for help, but this horrific act of violence broke his anonymity along with his jaw. Joe manages to provide for his wife and two children by working two jobs. Normally Joe rides a bike to and from work through some undesirable parts of the city. However his bike was stolen months earlier forcing him to walk the path at night. Neither of his jobs provides the type of benefits required to allow the hospitalization required to treat his injuries to provide for Joe’s family. What an opportunity for Christians to show the love of Jesus to a stranger among us.

Naturally I wanted to help and handed an unsigned card with an offering enclosed to the corporate collection point. Having “done my thing” I went about my job. But God had a different plan and I was unable to sleep that night. I felt led to bring the situation before the Christians here at Nortel. An e-mail was sent urging prayer, compassion and generosity for Joe and his family. Within minutes people poured out their generous donations for this man. I expected this, but what I did not expect was the reaction of the non-believers. Not only were additional funds received but also the Lord placed me in a position to witnesses to several people. This traditionally is an uncomfortable task for me. But in His faithfulness I was able to articulate that the Lord had indeed turned what was meant for evil to good because of the unending love God the Father has toward all of us. Not only was I personally challenged, but I had the honor of speaking the truth of God’s love to some who felt that the Lord could never accept them. Seeds have been planted that I never would have done had it not been for the nagging of the Holy Spirit. I may never know how lives were affected by Joe’s tragedy, but God has a plan.

The day after I requested support for Joe I received an e-mail which brought me to tears in my office. I was reminded that they who sow in tears, reap in joy. That e-mail can be found on the Nortel Christian Fellowship selected publications page called “The Visitor”. The story speaks of entertaining Jesus unaware through a sacrificial offering of a poor women to strangers who had even less. You see The Most High God, creator of the universe, allowed us to entertain Jesus by helping another in need.

[As of December 1997] Joe is still unable to work so please be sure to lift him up in prayer.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:24-25)

Editor’s note: Please pray that salvation would come to Joe and his family and that God would “turn the curse” around, so that Joe would be able to look back and say (one day), God has used even the bad things in my life for the good. I am a better person for it.”