“What does it look like to live in the neighborhood God has placed us in?”
Resonate Global Mission recently brought together 54 individuals living throughout the world to explore that question through Joining God in the Neighborhood cohorts.
Joining God in the Neighborhood addressed the new context of stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. Meeting together regularly online over video call to read Scripture, learn, and reflect together, participants were then sent out to join God on mission right outside their doors.
“God is at work in God’s world, including in our neighbors and neighborhoods,” said Karen Wilk, one of the facilitators for the cohorts. “As we pay attention to those next door, listen to their stories and learn from them, we will discover more about who God is … and how we can participate in what God is already doing right where we live.”
Ahee Kim learned about the cohort through Resonate missionary Mary Buteyn. Kim had been working at a school in Berlin, but the school closed due to COVID-19. She felt purposeless at first, but as she spent time praying, she felt God teaching her that the Holy Spirit was still actively working—and she, just like everyone, was invited to join in that work.
“The cohort seemed like such a fitting opportunity for me to learn more about how I may respond to God,” Kim said.
Through the cohort, Kim felt challenged to be more intentional about getting to know people in the dormitory where she was living. As Resonate ministry leaders challenged cohort participants to go for walks in their neighborhoods, check in with neighbors, and experiment with different ways to connect with people, Kim joined yoga classes and led a chapel service in her dormitory.
Carol Vanderstoep also joined the cohort. Vanderstoep and her husband are planting The Bridge, a CRC church in the small town of Fergus, Ont.
“Although we thought we understood what that would mean,” Vanderstoep said, “God took us on a different journey than the attractional model that we imagined.”
Vanderstoep said the church has been learning what it means to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
“We are all on a learning curve of seeing where God is already at work in our neighborhoods and community and joining him there rather than coming in and creating our own programs and inviting others into it,” she said.
Vanderstoep enjoyed learning alongside other members of the CRC who are trying to do the same. She appreciated hearing their ideas and stories about connecting with their neighbors.
“What I’ve learned over time is that God is asking us to love our neighbors and become friends and share in each other’s lives,” said Vanderstoep. “Relationships develop naturally, and conversations flow. We just need to meet people where they are on their journey. Listening to the Spirit for guidance is so important.”
Resonate ministry leaders adapted Joining God in the Neighborhood from Go Local, a Resonate initiative in which churches learn how to discern how the Holy Spirit is at work in their neighborhoods and respond faithfully.
Resonate ministry leaders will continue to lead Go Local and Joining God in the Neighborhood cohorts for anyone who wants to discover how God is working in their neighborhoods. You can learn more about joining a cohort online at resonateglobalmission.org/go-local.