Pray to Get Proximate

Would you stop for a moment and ask God to open your eyes to that neighbor that needs help with a little task, a welcoming smile, or an invitation into a conversation?

How Can You Get Closer?

At Women of Welcome, we started posting Monthly Move challenges on social media because some women in our community wanted to know how they could take steps in their own communities to build relationships with immigrants and refugees. We often get the question, “How can I help?” when we talk about big issues at the border and in migrant communities. Volunteering, donation, and advocacy are all important. Often though, it is not these big tasks that happen in our daily lives, but the slow, consistent relationship building and loving our actual neighbors. Jesus certainly acted in big ways to make a difference in people’s lives. He also built friendships with those on the margins over the long haul of his ministry. We want to help people ask the question, “How can I get closer?”

Often women will tell us, “I don’t have immigrants in our community.” For most people, this isn’t true. We just get into our normal rhythms of life and get busy. We have to intentionally alter our paths to meet people outside of our usual patterns. You can visit an immigrant-owned restaurant. You can shop at an international market.

Start with Prayer

Most often though, the first step is prayer. We ask God to open our eyes and change our hearts. That’s why one of our Monthly Move challenges is to pray and ask God to open your eyes as you go about your usual social rhythms and show you immigrants in your area who could use a friendly face. Pray as you go to the store, walk around your neighborhood, drop your kids off at school, sit at sports practices, or anywhere else you usually go. You’ll be surprised how God works. Nicole, on our Women of Welcome team, certainly was.

Ask God to Open Your Eyes

We had a conversation on our team about this challenge and how we would commit to praying and ask others to pray with us in August. That very afternoon, Nicole received a text from a next-door neighbor. She recently moved into a new neighborhood and had exchanged numbers with her neighbor but that was the extent of their interactions. Her neighbor, who had moved to the U.S. from Columbia, asked Nicole if she could come over to help her with something. She had applied for a job and needed to take an online assessment and was struggling with the instructions in English, her second language.

Nicole says, “I didn’t really feel like I had extra time that night, but I was so excited that one of my neighbors had reached out.” She sat with her neighbor for a couple of hours and they worked through the test together and talked about their families and their lives. “It wasn’t a huge thing, but it made a difference to her. She told me she’d had friends lose jobs because they didn’t properly take these kinds of assessments,” Nicole told us.

Ask God to Open Your Heart

It may not be the same day that you pray that God gives you an opportunity to make a connection. It may result in slow, subtle changes in your own heart. Yet, prayer is one faithful step in the journey of biblical hospitality. Will you ask God to change your heart and help you see interruptions in your usual routine as Divine Appointments? Would you stop for a moment and ask God to open your eyes to that neighbor that needs help with a little task, a welcoming smile, or an invitation into a conversation? It doesn’t take a big step; it just takes an open heart.