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"...you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” - Mark 12:31
Every year literally hundreds of persons and families move to the St. Louis area from throughout the world. Some come as immigrants, some as refugees. They are often the looked over, left out, left behind and least of these; precious people made in God's image.
And yet they are coming here to live, to make a new home and a fresh start. Their challenges are immense. The past pain of where they once lived, fears for their children, finding decent employment, loneliness and more are among those challenges. Yes they have many needs, but often their greatest needs are simply acceptance, a sense of belonging and friendship.
These new residents of St. Louis are also our neighbors. Jesus said we are to love our neighbors and the The Good Neighbor Initiative is an effort to help us do just that. The Good Neighbor Initiative is a program of the Saint Louis Metro Baptist Association, thus it for those churches along with the churches of the Oasis International Church Network. When members in good standing of those churches have applied and been selected, they are invited to the training and will eventually be matched with a neighbor new to St. Louis they can befriend. You can become involved with The Good Neighbor Initiative as an individual or as a family! However, just as Jesus sent the disciples two by two, The Good Neighbor Initiative will send people two by two into the home of a refugee family. It doesn't take much to be a friend! You can do this! You can sign up to be a part of The Good Neighbor as an individual, a family or a small group / Sunday school class from your church.
visit your new neighbor at least once a month
pray for your new neighbor regularly
as you are comfortable and God leads, invite them to your home for a meal, special occasion, a holiday
complete the "Checking In" form on a monthly basis
We would like for you to start the process with a 12 month commitment in mind, but we realize that sometimes people just don't connect or relate well. That's okay! Just be sure to communicate with us.
Pray. Ask the Father if He would like you to become a good neighbor to a refugee family.
Understand the GNI is a program for partnering churches of the SLMBA and the Oasis International network of churches. If you or your church is not a part of those churches, you can still volunteer to help refugees in incredible ways! Click here to find out how
Be prepared to pay $15.95 for your application fee, which includes your training and required background check.
Understand and agree to a 90 minute training session.
"There has to be a way to better connect the local church with refugee moms, dads, and families new to St. Louis.” This was the thought that kept running through my mind for several years. I mean it’s really not complicated is it? Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love your neighbor. I pulled some of our team members together around a conference table. These are bright, creative, thoughtful people who love God and love people. From that meeting The Good Neighbor Initiative was formed, an effort in partnership with Oasis International to match up Christians from partnering local churches to new refugees families in St. Louis. Our vision is to see hundreds of real friendships formed honoring the teachings of Christ, exemplifying what the Apostle Paul said matters most, which is faith expressing itself in love. (Gal. 5:6)
Darren Casper - Plant Midwest, St. Louis Metro Baptist Association