If you’ve been tracking with us in Echoes this year, you know we’re seeking to ask THE question “Who is my neighbor?” It’s a big question. It’s personal, but also social. It’s about people next door, but also people on the other side of town. It’s about people in need, but it’s also about us—the condition of our hearts and minds, and the capacity of our eyes to see those we may be liable to pass on the side of the road along our way.
We’re asking this question because we’re concerned about the growing gaps between the affluent and the struggling and the growing divisions between people who never have a chance to connect with one another. In the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told, when the Samaritan stopped to care for an abused man on the road to Jericho, he was caring for someone, but he was also reaching across chasms of difference—in culture, in ethnicity, in class.
That’s the call of neighboring—the call to reach across. The call to allow others to make claims on our treasures of time, money, and talents. The call to put ourselves into relationships that we might find uncomfortable, or even risky.
The photos on these pages represent one day and one small way that we’re trying to rethink Who is my neighbor?. On October 9 in San Antonio, we hosted a couple hundred people for a lunchtime conversation led by Jeremy Everett, author of I Was Hungry and founder and executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. Jeremy told stories of people he’s met across Texas who are often forgotten—the working poor, the hungry, those trapped by place and circumstance in insurmountable challenges.
We were also led by David Bailey of Arrabon, an organization that seeks to build reconciliation between disparate communities. He helped us think about how we might respond to the call to neighboring.
So what happens next? For now, our call is to keep learning, keep opening ourselves to opportunities to get to know and understand our neighbors. Real change—for us, for others—will happen only in relationship. In the season ahead, we’ll be building ways to make more relationships possible between us and all our neighbors.