Mission to My Neighbor
When the Caraballos arrived in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, their elderly neighbor Paul Callahan was among the first to welcome them and to offer help for repairs and upgrades happening at their new home.
“One of my biggest fears was meeting our new neighbors. I was wondering who they were going to be and what they were going to be like,” shares Sharaine Caraballo. “When Paul welcomed us into the neighborhood I knew I had made the right choice.”
After Paul melted away their trepidation, he quickly became much more than a helpful friend to the family. He is now the “honorary grandpa” who takes part in their family gatherings and holiday celebrations, and visits just about every other day.
And the Caraballos have been a blessing to Paul, whose wife passed away six months before he met his new family.
Processing loss and the resulting change is never easy, but it becomes more bearable when enveloped in the loving arms of a neighbor.
Who is our neighbor?
Jesus defines our neighbor as, well, everyone! Jesus instructs us to demonstrate this relationship through love and mercy … even when the neighbor is totally different from us and someone whom, in our fallen nature, we may not be inclined to like (Luke 10:25-37).
Unfortunately, no matter how religious someone is or claims to be, expressing godly love proves to be elusive in certain circumstances. Sometimes we need help. Throughout holy texts, such as 1 Corinthians 13 and James 2:17-22, God reminds us that faith is expressed through acts of love; those acts can become easier when we spend more time with Jesus.
Are you ready to take a chance like Paul Callahan and reach out to a stranger and grow your family? Are you willing to let someone else reach out to you?
Connecting: What do you find most inspiring about the story of the Caraballo family and their “honorary grandfather”?
Sharing: How can we learn to recognize what holds us back regarding others? For example, how can you identify your own prejudices that need to be overcome?
- Journaling about my experiences with people and then reviewing those notes
- Asking others how they observe me reacting to people who are different from me
- Asking myself who I choose to associate with and why, and vice versa
- Prayerfully poring over the Bible
- Exploring my feelings with a therapist or trusted advisor
Applying: Mirroring the acts of kindness that led her to Christ, author Rosaria Butterfield hosts dinners with neighbors (no matter their religious views and lifestyle choices) at her home. Consider a simple act of kindness you can do to reach out to others and reflect God’s love.
Valuing: Read 1 Corinthians 15:30-32 and then reflect on the risk of expressing love. What helps (or could help) you put aside your fear(s) and reach out to a neighbor?
~ Stefani Leeper