Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away. (Proverbs 27:10)
Relate: “Are you OK? Are on our side? Do you need a place to stay tonight?” I was almost drifting to sleep when I got this on the evening of July 15’th. Within the next 5 minutes I started getting texts or whatsapp from a bunch of other people as well. By that point I had started sending out some of my own. My mind made a mental list of others I knew in Istanbul, prioritized them by where they lived, and started checking in on those living closest to places like the airport or the Bosphorus bridge who were closest to danger areas. The reason others were checking on me was because I lived on the Asian side of Istanbul but was heading over to the European side almost every day for one reason or another. Transportation between the two sides had been cut off and people were opening up their homes if I needed it.
It wasn’t until I had connected with pretty much everyone I knew in the city before I started making calls and connections with people back in the States. Yes, I definitely wanted people praying as Turkey was experiencing the coup, but helping my neighbors took priority over reassuring family. One of the hardest parts of moving from Istanbul to Gaziantep was leaving that community just as it was hard to leave my community in Binghamton when I first came to Turkey. This past Friday many Kurdish leaders were illegally detained a bomb went off in a nearby city, and there were protests throughout this area in the Southeast. While it wasn’t nearly the same scale as July 15, I was frustrated that I do not know well enough and don’t have the contact information on my new friends and neighbors here who might have been impacted. Give me a few months and that will change, but for now I need to build that community. I have family that I can call and skype with anytime. I have a home church I meet with at least once a week through google hangouts. But I need neighbors that I can help and seek help from when disaster strikes.
React: I cannot know what it would be like to not know my neighbors. I cannot imagine living in an area without living in community. How can someone go through a disaster without having neighbors to turn to? Granted, most disasters aren’t as scary as coups but even still. If a pipe bursts, if the car won’t start, who will I call? As much as I might love family living three states away, can they help in a moment like that? A phone call is nice but can I take them out for coffee for a heart to heart like I could a neighbor? Can I make them a meal when one parent is in the hospital with their sick kid? Can I lend them my tools? We can show love to our family but we must show love to our neighbors. How can we do so when we don’t even know them?
Forgive me for now being more intentional in being part of my community. Forgive me for those times I have walked right on by when You have nudged me to stop and talk. Help me to better love my neighbor because it is the most eloquent expression of showing my love for You.