It was clear before I’d even started Soul61 that Soul Survivor valued relationships. They clearly thought that the most challenging aspect of our year, and the most rewarding part of our time here would be gained through the friendships and relationships we made. Through the time we spent with our housemates, our course mates, our leaders, our church family. Sounded good, but how would this actually work?! How could we gain more from friendships than our experience on placement? Or more from friendships than the hours of teaching we would be getting? This is odd, this isn’t the message passed on throughout my time at school or the message society portrays. I was excited about this, I was excited to see it work and I was excited to see a family grow but couldn’t see how. I had friends from home already and I’d make new friends at uni who I’d live with for longer so didn’t really see how this year would be any different.
I was wrong.
I’ve been here almost a month now and have already formed friendships with such a wide range of people and grown in ways I would never have imagined.
And people aren’t all the same. We’ve grown together, worked together and are learning to live together. We annoy each other and we love each other. I’ve been stretched, challenged, pushed, encouraged and comforted by people going through the same as me, people who’ve done it before me and people leading me. And we’re only 4 weeks in!
The Bible talks about us living in community, about a family of believers and about how we should be living together. Sadly, time and again our world has forgotten this. Our leaders have forgotten this. I have forgotten this. Forgotten what it means to live in community and as a family of believers over the entire world. As I look back at the 4 weeks gone by I can see the effect that my extended Soul61 family has had on me, has had on the people I live with and has had on my relationship with Jesus. This is only the start.
What if this multiplied?! Through my cell group? Through the rest of the church? Through other 61s’ placements? Through a network of churches? Into the community? Into the rest of the world? A whole group of people, not just looking at what they’re achieving, not just looking at what they’re doing but sharing together, doing life together, and changing each other.
By spending time with my room-mate and not just jumping onto the next task, I may not be changing the world or releasing millions of people from poverty. I may not be addressing the biggest issue of the day, but I’m a step closer. It’s strengthening the family who can do more than I can on my own, who can reach further than I could on my own. This is how we’ll see change happen.
The Bible may speak of a family of believers, but there are clear instructions as to how this family should be working; with each other, within the church and within the wider community not exclusively as believers. We are called to love our neighbour. We are called not to ignore the poor and the marginalised, rather invite them into our families. We are called to look after widows and orphans in their distress and take them into our care. This is how our family impacts the world. If we can start loving our neighbours here and now, we will build up our community, grow closer to each other and to God and our overflow of love for him will lead us to others, to the last, the least and the lost and to changing the world.