Listening To and Understanding Our Neighbors

“To understand the community, you need to go out there. You need to hear their stories.”

This is one of the thoughts shared by Maria Vargas, who served on the NOW District task force to study racism that was called for at the 2018 District Convention. She and the other members created the “Speaking the Truth in Love” Toolkit – a series of studies, videos, Bible readings, questions, and prayer time – all designed to spark conversations and loving actions toward our neighbors. The first part of the study was released just after Easter, while the second part launched last month. Find them here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Maria’s story is inspiring: She was first invited into the church from Lutheran Latino Ministry leaders who went out of their way to connect with families from the riskier parts of town. Thanks to that invitation, her entire family became faithful believers. And this is what the toolkit is about: Encouraging participants to step outside of their comfort zones to love those who are different than us. There are many ways to do this – and a good start is just listening. 

“Whenever you have the opportunity, ask people questions,” Vargas said. This lets people of all backgrounds and nationalities know they are welcomed, encouraged, and seen as a vital part of the church. Hear more by watching her full interview. And then check out the toolkit to dive in even deeper. 

“Don’t make assumptions, and don’t be afraid. I share that because a lot of people years later shared that they were really afraid to go out to my neighborhood. But that can block a lot of connections from happening,” she said. “I would say go to those places that are calling to you, because you don’t know who you’re going to meet there. You don’t know who you’re going to connect with.”

Note: Lutheran Latino Ministries is one of our District partners. At the 2022 NOW District Convention, Resolution 2-11 included the directive “to commend to our district members and congregations generous support of the Lutheran Latino Ministries organization”; it passed by a 92.9% majority vote. We, as a district, determined that this was an important emphasis. Visit LLM’s website to see all that they are doing and find out how to offer the generous support called for in the Resolution. 

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