City Highlight: Denver
Three miles - that’s a fairly significant distance; most would drive rather than walk that far. I think it’s safe to say that someone three miles away from me is not my neighbor. Neighbors are the nice people that live next door who you wave to when you are both leaving your homes at the same time. They are the people you make small talk with while picking up your mail. If you’re lucky, you may have over-achiever neighbors who will bring you cookies every now and again. Your neighbors generally look similar to you, share some of your beliefs, and are in relatively the same place in society. However, it is clear through the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus has a different definition of neighbor; a true, loving, and Godly definition. In this story, the neighbor is not the Priest of the Levite, who most likely share similar dress, beliefs, and societal prominence as the injured man. Rather, it’s the Samaritan, a man whose nature and upbringing place him in opposition to the injured man, which ends up being his neighbor. In this, Christ opens up a whole new realm of neighbors. Our neighbors are all of those that we show mercy to and so we can have as many neighbors choose. Neighbors are no longer bound by location, race, and financial status, but by the mercy that flows from us.
The poorest neighborhood in Denver, the Sun Valley, is three miles from our housing site and is where our newest ministry partner Hope in Our City has decided that their neighbors are. Hope in Our City has sought to be a part of the large refugee community, with the goal of showing them compassion and love. We are so excited about their passion to help their neighbors intangible ways that will not only relieve immediate needs, but help to equip their neighbors in the future:
“Our strategy is to develop the skills of vulnerable individuals in the six specific areas of language, employment, education, life-skills, citizenship and spiritual development. We believe these are the BIG 6 to engagement. An individual bettering themselves in these 6 areas will lead to a better community, which leads to a stronger city, which leads to a healthier nation and ultimately a world filled with hope today and for all eternity through belief in Jesus" (www.hopeinourcity.org)
I think we can admire Hope in Our City’s approach to being neighbors. Instead of living life and caring for just those we daily encounter, we can expand neighborliness to whoever we choose. We can seek out those that God wants us to have compassion on and realize that there are no boundaries to who we can love except our own capacity and desire to love. We can seek to love as Christ loves us and to allow His love to pour out and to reach those who have no neighbors.