If I gave you a map of your neighborhood or block (or square mile around your home for those outside of town), how many of your neighbors would you be able to give me names for? Could you tell me their story? Could you tell me what they do for a living or where they grew up or what their favorite foods are? Perhaps most importantly, could you tell me where they are at in their own spiritual journey? When was the last time each of your neighbors were in your home? When was the last time you shared a meal together? When was the last time you were in their home? As we have been working in three different neighborhoods this week in New Orleans, we have daily taken time to walk the neighborhood and pray on our own and with people who are open to it. As we travel each day from Covington into the heart of the city and back again, we have time to talk about life and get to know the staff and other volunteers we are working with.
One of the joys of this mission trip for me has been seeing the youth step out of their comfort zones and do things they may not have done before. One of those things has been helping lead devotionals each morning. We broke up into three groups of three and I am proud of the effort the youth have put into preparing and sharing a devotional message for not only our team, but the Crisis Response staff and other volunteers who join us each morning for breakfast.
Moms and dads, you would be proud. This morning the devotional was on how to respond to emotional pain and suffering in a biblical manner and how to minister to people more effectively having been through suffering or pain ourselves. We talked about extending Christian hospitality to those in our neighborhoods back home and what that might look like. Ideas were discussed of block parties where neighbors can get to know each other better and be more intentional about doing life together.
As we wrap up our work on the job sites tomorrow (Friday), pray that we will not only have developed a heart for the neighborhoods we are serving, but that we will take home with us a desire to get to know our neighbors more deeply and to minister to them and encourage them in their spiritual journey as we do life together with them.