Finding Community with the Alien Residing In Your Midst

Community:

1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. 

2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

We all belong to communities. We are on different teams and parts of different clubs. We attend different schools and different churches. However, the one community without any divide is the body of Christ. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our people!!! Throughout the summer, I have had the opportunity to engage in many different communities that have taught me so much about who makes up the body of Christ. Although getting up and to work by 7:30 seems to be getting harder and harder, the communities being built seems to make it more and more worth it.

We started Tuesday, July 17th off with our morning devotion, focusing on defining community. Although we have a devotion on this topic weekly, I really tried to focus on its’ message throughout that day. That afternoon, we traveled to a housing development that houses refugees in the Raleigh area. Workers from another nonprofit in Raleigh teaches the adults in the neighborhood English, so the team from RYM watches the kids while the parents can better their education. I have been to this place several times, but something about the work we did that day sparked new thoughts in my head. I loved watching the way our team from RYM took on the challenge of handling tons of kids they had never met, and how they showed God’s love through the way they played with the kids and had conversations with them. Our team took in every moment and worked hard in the July sun to ensure the refugee children were having a fun time. These relationships were developed within a couple hours, but unfortunately the likelihood that our group from RYM will see the kids they worked with again is close to none. However, for that short amount of time, there was a community of people not separated by race, class, gender, or social status. For that brief amount of time, we drew with chalk, we made bracelets, and we played lots of soccer without thinking of the labels that society might place on these people.

This truly had me thinking: what would the world look like if we took time to make communities and develop relationships with those who are different from us? What could we accomplish if we took time to get to know someone else’s story and tell them our own? I have a good feeling the world would be a much more harmonious place. That’s why I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to work with these children. Creating community with them is truly humbling and puts so much into perspective about opportunity and the United States. Before coming to work at RYM, I was not familiar with how the United States handles refugees, but more so I had no idea how the Bible tells us as Christians to face such political issues. Leviticus 19:33-34 states,When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” How incredible is it that the Bible tells us exactly what we need to do-welcome in the stranger and create community with them! By intentionally developing relationships, we are learning, we are growing, and we are viewing life through a different lens. All of these are essential for developing a new sense of community here in the United States with all of our neighbors. Community might be the person we thought we had nothing in common with, or it might be someone we share everything with. But in all, I think it is amazing that Raleigh Youth Mission is finding communities wherever they go and sharing the love of God through these places and through their faces.

 

Leah Brooks is a summer intern at Raleigh Youth Mission.  She attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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