By Guyana Hand

Going Back to the Hood

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 steps to 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.”

Comments

I don't know why God made me found this blog... I'm for a poor hood too :'(, criminality is horrible, noises like cars, motorcycles, reggaetón <-- horrible puertorican music and witches. Seriously I'm living in those situations since I was a kid :'( and I was tired of it. I don't want to think that God is going to reverse on me taking me back to there. I'm doing my best to go further, I have good grades and I'm a very talented person. Your last paragraph touched my heart so bad you can imagine. I really don't wanna return back, that's no life. You can't sleep well, you don't have freedom to walk, to do not even take a look in the balcony because drug sellers are always paranoid. Gun shots almost, like no kidding every night or celebration (baseball games, boxing, new years U.U) That is called "El caserio" and is the worst place to live in Puerto Rico. Even when you tell people you are from there, they look at you so bad and some of them think you are scary. There are only a few who can say that I'm a warrior cuz I'm staying pure in a horrible place. That's why I moved into a dorm. I have lots of questions living in my head and some are coming right now but one thing I know: Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

Hello Anonymous, It's really encouraging to hear how the Lord led you to this blog post. Maybe He wants to encourage you that you're not alone in trying to follow him in a hard place. I'm sorry to hear about the crime in your neighborhood, and I can relate to some of those things, too. Especially when people look at you differently when you tell them where you live. When I was writing this blog post, I really wanted to communicate that we are all called to love our neighbors in whatever place the Lord has placed us. Sometimes it's hard, but I know that the Lord is with us whether we live in a dorm on campus or an apartment in the hood. Maybe you can pray for my hood and I can pray for yours? Shalom, Guyana

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