“Only about 20% of people regularly spend time with those living next to them, and one third report never interacting with their neighbors, according to a 2015 report from economist Joe Cortwright” (quoted in the May 2016 Reader’s Digest).
I find it interesting that Acts 17:26 states, “God began by making one man. From him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they must live” (Emphasis mine, NCV).
Why did God put me in this state, in this city, in this neighborhood, in this house—at this time? Could he have a purpose for me here and now?
When my husband and I moved to the Denver area two and a half years ago, we took these verses to heart in a new way to open our home to neighbors. This is something we’ve been growing in over the past decade, and it has proved to be rich beyond what we imagined—speaking as introverts who aren’t your typical “party people.”
After going to concerts with neighbors, having them over to watch sporting events or for potluck dinners where we talk about the “highs” and “lows” since we last got together, taking time to stop and catch up at the mailbox or when we take a walk, being quick to meet and greet—through all this, trust has been built, relationships are deepening, and we are becoming allies in life. Yes, this takes time and intentionality, but again, Why did God put me in this place at this time?
Henri Nouwen says it well: “In our world full of strangers, estranged from their own past, culture and country, from their neighbors, friends and family, from their deepest self and their God, we witness a painful search for a hospitable place where life can be lived without fear and where community can be found…. Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.”
Lead Catalyst – Denver