For several years, I've co-lead a conference breakout session called "Welcome to tha Hood" with an incredible leader who lives in the 3rdWard of Houston. The session focus is on living intentionally in communities like our "North of Broadway" neighborhood. We share how we live, raise our families, and spend our time and energy.
What we teach in these breakouts isn't really anything special because anyone can be a good neighbor. Good neighbors listen to each other, and keep an eye out for each other. A good neighbor knows the children's names and recognizes the dog from down the street if he gets loose. There is so much to being a good neighbor, yet it's really very simple. Good neighbors care about their community and each other. We are choosing to be good neighbors to the people living in our North of Broadway community.
But, let's discuss for a minute what it looks like to live in a very different place; what it means to take "neighbor" out of the hood.
Jesus tells us a story about what it means to be a neighbor. When asked "how to inherit eternal life" by an expert in the Law, Jesus asks the man, "what is written in the Law? and how do you read it?" The Lawyer responds, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus says that he answered correctly. Then, the Lawyer asks, "who is my neighbor." He asks the question because he needs justification on his lifestyle. So, Jesus tells him a story about a man who was beaten and robbed while traveling, and describes the various individuals who pass the man by without helping. In the story Jesus tells, it is the most unlikely individual who becomes the neighbor to the broken man - a man from another culture and background. (Read the full story here). The neighbor is the one who goes above and beyond; spends his own money, uses his own resources, and shows love by engaging with the beaten and broken man.
So, what happens when we take the neighbor out of the hood? We have a community where everyone looks the other way. We have a place where the "religious" walk by without seeing the problems, and others do not engage at all. I see this in our community. I see it in the daily happenings, as people "walk by" the problem; they know the problem is there, but they do not engage. They see it, count the cost and walk by! ENOUGH! WE MUST CHANGE THIS! We can no longer walk by. By owning this revelation, we have chosen to spend our life doing this...choosing to be a neighbor. Putting neighbor back in the hood!
If you are reading this, you likely have chosen not to walk by or step over the problem. You believe in making neighborhoods whole. We do not want to "preach to the choir" but want to continue to share our hearts for what we do and why we do it. Thank you for your commitment to Christian Community Development and the work that we believe will truly transform our community!