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July Activate Post: Who is your neighbor?


Do you ever drive around town and see church signs that you can’t read?

In Atlanta, like in many communities across the US, people are moving into our neighborhoods. I see church signs in Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish, and even Nepali. One church I drive by on my way to work has had up to three congregations meeting in the same building. I have seen Hispanic, Haitian, and Burmese signs in front of this church at the same time!

The good news is that roughly half of our immigrant neighbors come from a Christian faith background. When new generations of young people leave our churches, at least for a number of years, if not for good, God has a plan which seems to include our immigrant neighbors.

Since Jesus’ love is for His whole world, the other good news is that our new immigrant neighbors are people for whom Christ died. And we get to meet people from around the globe, not by getting on an airplane, but by walking up to a new neighbor in the store and engaging in casual conversation.

I’ve been asking myself, Who is my neighbor?

Being a “Good Samaritan” in a multi-cultural world necessitates asking this question. In Luke 10, an expert in the law who wanted to justify himself asks Jesus this same question. It is a good question because it reveals the motives of our heart. Do we “Love our neighbor as our self?” Like the Good Samaritan, how can we show mercy to our new neighbors?

As I read this parable recently, something new jumped off the page for the first time. The Samaritan used what he had close by. Right there, on his donkey, he had flasks of oil and wine. He used what he had close at hand to care for the man he met on the road. Yes, he had pity on him and gave money. But loving his neighbor required more of him than that.

The other question I’ve been asking myself is, How am I loving my neighbor?

Interestingly, within a stone’s throw from this three-congregation church are Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim houses of worship. The fear of what is unknown is real. But I have found as I walk up to a new neighbor in the store and begin to engage in casual conversation, a God-given love for my neighbor casts out my fear. Maybe our new neighbors in Christ will be the ones to show us how to connect with people from other cultures and faiths.

The next time you see a church sign that you can’t read or see a different faith’s house of worship, ask yourself, “Who is my neighbor?” And then maybe ask God how you can love your neighbor with what you have close at hand.

If you are interested in how TMS Global can help mobilize your church to your neighbors locally or globally, please let us know.

Steve Wilson serves as the senior director of international mobilization for TMS Global.