My neighborhood’s the type of place InterVarsity students might visit for an Urban Project.
It’s the type of place people lock their car doors as they drive through. Quite frankly, it’s the type of place young people don’t return to after college.
My mom moved there after I went to college, and like most recent grads, I planned to spend a few months at home before I moved on to bigger and better things. Growing up, my mom and I lived just above the poverty line. We weren’t the poorest of the poor, but we longed for the comfort and security money would bring.
I dreamed of getting as far away from my humble beginnings as possible. My mom advocated for my education, and I dodged the failing schools I was zoned for through a combination of public school transfers, magnet programs, and long bus rides.
After I moved back home from college, I got connected with a small group of young Christians living intentionally in my community. I was embarrassed to realize I hadn’t thought much about loving my neighbors.
Truthfully, I wanted to rush through the transitional time between graduation and my job because it was easier than being present at home. Being present would mean taking in the failing schools, crime, and economic injustice that surrounded me.
Despite the promises I’d made to follow Jesus anywhere he might call me, I was offended that I was called to be at home during this season of my life.
But slowly, I began to consider God’s heart for the people in my community.
I began to consider the students in my neighborhood who couldn’t transfer to better-resourced schools. I began to consider the economic implications of always shopping outside my neighborhood. I began to consider what happens to communities whose educated young people leave and vow to never come back.
So I took small stepsto connect:
· shopping locally
· chatting with my neighbors
· praying for my neighborhood
Over time, I felt God begin to call me to my home to learn how to love my neighbors. I’m not sure yet what form that will take, but I am eager to find God in this place I once vowed to never call home.
Guyana Hand was a recent video production intern with 2100 Productions until she returned to her home neighborhood in Orlando, Florida. She likes free food, bicycling, and the phrase, “stay black.”