Living overseas for the last several years obviously busted my worldview wide open. Experiencing different cultures and perspectives helped me view things from outside that of just an American middle-class Caucasian gal and I’m better for it. Befriending street children, refugees, survivors of war, and my Muslim neighbors changed me.

I expected it to, I’d hoped it would, and I’m so glad it did.

What I did not expect was to keep being challenged. I thought I knew who the least of these were. I thought I knew who the neighbors were that I was called to love. Like I shared in this post, I’d always cared about the vulnerable and ‘least of these,’ or so I thought. But as I kept reading scripture, and kept diving into issues of globalization, politics, and capitalism, I became more and more aware of how much my life intersects with others in ways I never realized. I kept finding neighbors I never knew were there.

And I want to keep finding neighbors I didn’t know were there. I want to keep learning and understanding more about how my actions, and inactions, affect other people. I want to keep trying to understand how to love my neighbor the way Jesus instructed us to. I want to keep being empowered to help love and care for the orphan, the widow, the prisoner, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the homeless, the hopeless, the oppressed, the refugee, the poor, those close, and those far away.

And even (harrumph) my enemies.

Just like Jesus told us to.

I want to keep learning who is my neighbor, and how to love them as myself. I want to grow in empathy, in knowledge, in understanding, and in kindness. I want to keep learning about the complexities of poverty, and figure out, like Jesus, how to live toward the kingdom of heaven in all of it.

I want to keep being challenged out of the fear, anxiety, and greed the times we are in tempt us to, and instead keep learning how to be a life giver, a peacemaker, and like I believe the gospel is good news for the poor—like, the really, truly, actual poor.

And I want you to come along, too!

Bi-weekly I’ll be rounding up bits of the internet and thoughts that challenge, encourage, and, hopefully, help us recognize and value the neighbors who are all around, and near and far. The ones we know are there, the ones we don’t see, and grow in our understanding of how our lives and choices affect so many we had no idea about. Bits that can help us better understand, and therefore more likely to love, those who are different than us.

I’m calling A Neighborly Newsletter and it kicks off this week! If you’re not already on my list and would like to be, you can sign up below!

Come along as I, like the rich young ruler, try to work out ‘Who is my neighbor?,’ and how to love them like Christ.

“Tulip 2,” Acrylic, 2007.

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