Neighborly Love, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Nigeria Intern

 

A few weeks ago we began our first project with another team.  We spent the entire day doing projects at the Oasis Community Center in the Kisayhip Village of Jos, Nigeria.  The majority of the team painted the community center with a primer coat to get ready for the Back2Back team next week.  The rest of the group split in two and some worked on clearing the roadside gutter to prevent flooding during the rains and the rest of the group moved a significant amount of gravel, rock, and sand for concrete mixing an building to the other side of the compound to make it easier for future deliveries and a more central location for work. In the midst of the pounding heat we were able to completely prime the building, move all but a handful of the big rocks, and dig out a majority of the roadside.  Feelings of accomplishment ran high as we finished out the day sitting on the porches watching a thunderstorm roll by.  These types of achievements not only help boost our moral, but really help to show the community the importance of taking care of facilities and thinking a few steps ahead of the current problem.

Nigerians are a wonderful people with a tremendous sense of community and perseverance, but have been trampled and pushed down by exploitation, which turns into a terrible foundation of traditions.  A large part of community development lays in finding pride not only in your neighbors and family, but also in the actual land and buildings.  Loving your neighbor does not always entail saving them from a horrible plight or devastating circumstance, but more frequently, and perhaps more importantly, loving your neighbor means literally doing the small things that you desire for yourself for them.  If I want my yard or my house to be clean then how I love my neighbor is also desiring (and acting upon) their yard or house to be clean.  The motivation moves from being self-centered to community centered and Biblically obedient.  By partnering together and serving those around us who are incapable, either by a lack of resources or a lack of know-how, we are not only serving them we are serving Christ and following the model of love He exhibited for us and commanded of us. Oh, how wonderful it is to worship in work and service!

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