"Cold" Calls

From Monday, January 25

Today we learned that it is different to go knocking on doors on a cold day. So far, our experience of doing door-to-door interviews has been very energizing and rewarding. Every time we go out in the neighborhood we have at least one amazing interview. I had begun to accept this as the norm. On a pleasant day, neighbors do not feel obligated to invite us in and they are also comfortable standing outside chatting with us. However, on a cold day, no one wants to stand outside.

This afternoon when Kristin and I went out to do interviews, it was cold and windy. We had called a few neighborhood churches to try to schedule interviews, but had to leave messages each time. So, we were making “cold” calls, literally! The first person we chatted to was dealing with the misfortune of car trouble and did not have time to talk today. She asked if she could call us at a more convenient time and come by our house to be interviewed. We said “sure” and continued on. The next person we spoke to was busy homeschooling her children and asked to complete the interview questionnaire independently. We told her we would stop back by in a week to follow up with her. Another person we went to interview was bundled up in a cozy robe and was embarrassed for us to see her home. She was just sitting down to eat. We asked if we might come back next week and she agreed. Thus, we now have a busy schedule set for next week - following up on all the contacts we made today.

We learned that cold weather interviews provide challenges other than the chill of walking from house to house. It was interesting that no one was comfortable inviting us in today, but they all were willing to set an appointment to meet with us at a future time. Scheduling a future interview time provides a third option - aside from standing outside in the cold or inviting two strangers in. I think this is a way in which we can respect our neighbors and allow them to participate on their own terms. This third option seems to be the best way to express hospitality to our neighbors.

The Gifts of Strangers Pt. 3

From Matt...

I’ve been presenting the value of honoring and welcoming the strangers, which is a key concept of asset-based community development. I want to end this series of posts with a parable from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. In that story, Jesus is separating people into two groups: sheep and goats. What determines their place is how they responded to the “strangers” in their own community. Here is what is said to the sheep:

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Of key importance is noting that the entire list of those who were served: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned, are all examples of the “stranger” in our own communities, AND we could certainly add more descriptions to that list.

At SoCe Life, we are practicing ABCD in the SoCe neighborhood because we care about our neighbors and because it feels like a wonderful way to honor the commandment of Jesus in this text and live out our faith. And I genuinely believe that when we strive to hear the marginalized in our community, we really could hear the voice of Christ (even though we probably won’t know it). And probably Jesus will challenge our assumptions about life, faith and who God is! I think I’ve experienced this, and it is completely worth it!