In a country that has become increasingly divided over political, racial and economic differences, here is a bit of encouraging news that I read on an online source. Multilingual “neighbor” signs are popping up in yards across parts of the mid-west and eastern United States with this message: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” The message on the signs is printed in English, Spanish and Arabic. The yard sign was spotted in the the D.C. area by blogger, Drew Schnelder who posted a picture of it on Instagram. The responses to his post were so positive, he decided to contact Conrad Gross, the homeowner who displayed the sign in his yard. It turns out that Gross was not the originator of the sign, but rather a Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In response to the rhetoric of last year’s primary debates, the church’s pastor, Matthew Bucher erected a hand-painted wooden version of the sign outside his church. People in the Harrisonburg area expressed an interest in the sign, so a reproducible version was created and was available for sale at $10 each to cover costs. Initial runs of 300 and then 1,000 signs, quickly sold out! The message had resonated so quickly that the church decided to make a digital copy available to the public. You can download the file to make your own signs at the church’s website, immanuelmennonite.wordpress.com.
What a great testimony of love and acceptance this church is making to its community and our nation! I am proud to also be part of a church that welcomes and reaches out to our international friends and neighbors. Every Sunday morning starting at 9:30 a.m. Crossing Community Church members teach English classes to students and adults from every part of the world. That takes place in the rooms on the east side of our building every Sunday! If you know of someone who could benefit from the ESL classes, let them know that they are welcome here and the classes are absolutely free. We also provide programs for their children while they are here. Also, if you wish to volunteer and become a part of this ministry, please check with me or contact Debbie Oliphant. As Jesus commanded us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” he also added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus didn’t say only to love those who are like ourselves, but our “neighbor.” As Christians we can make a difference in reaching out to our international friends and help change the hearts and attitudes of those who have bought into the rhetoric of fear.