*The following blog is written by a sophomore University of Missouri college student, Clair, that interned with CLDI this summer. I am incredibly grateful for young people like Claire who are committed to living lives of knowing and following the person of Jesus Christ. As she made a impact this summer in the South Side of Billings, may the Lord use her even more so on her college campus!
Before my time in Billings, I had never lived in the same community where I spent most of my time. While growing up, church, stores, and various activities were all located in locations other than where I lived, which was also the case for many of my friends and neighbors. This separation made it particularly easy for people to live their lives apart from each other without their paths ever really crossing. For the past number of weeks I spent almost all of my time in the South Side, which has forced me to actually observe the community that I am now a part of.
I noticed how everyone knows everyone that grew up in the neighborhood, and that type of relationship doesn’t come from an occasional encounter, but by spending time with and around people. When you actually get to know neighbors in this community, you can no longer be impervious to poverty and you begin to see the relational poverty that lies behind closed doors. The neighborhood has taught me that if brokenness in our community truly breaks our hearts as it does God’s, then it’s not enough to be empathetic toward the poor, but that injustice should stir our hearts and move us into action.
I have also witnessed how people in this neighborhood are willing to move mountains to serve others in the name of Christ, but have also seen how something as seemingly small as sharing a meal together shows the same love. However, these examples aren’t possible without being regularly and intentionally involved in service. Anonymous volunteering seems to be the most common way of serving the poor in the church (and in my own life), but how can you share Christ’s love if you never see any of the people you serve again? Being here in the South Side has shown me how far removed I have been from my neighbors as a whole in Columbia, Missouri. I have chosen to remain blind to the depth of poverty in my own community, but God has shown me through my time here that He is calling me to extend my relationships beyond what they are currently.
Claire, CLDI Summer Intern