LIBERTY – Because of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, it has never been more important for Missouri Baptists to find ways to connect with and love their neighbors. And many families and churches are aiming to do just that.
In the Kansas City area, two young girls have brought hope to their neighbors and many others amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Putnam girls, 7-year-old Collins and 5-year-old Carter, attend Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, with their parents, Michael and Whitney, and their younger sister.
The girls used their artistic talents in recent weeks to design an encouraging card that they could send to their neighbors. Depicted on each card was a bright and colorful rainbow, along with the words, “hope is here.”
After seeing the cards, their father Michael decided to spread the hope even farther, creating a ‘hope is here’ T-shirt based on their design. They are now selling the T-shirts and giving the proceeds to local nonprofits.
He told KMBC News that those who haven’t experienced as much financial hardship from COVID-19 can “use the resources we’ve been blessed with to help our countless neighbors” who have been hurt by the pandemic.
Also speaking to KMBC News, Collins made their message clear: “Hope is here,” she said. “Jesus loves you. Have a nice day.”
Meanwhile, in Ashgrove (about 20 miles outside of Springfield), the First Baptist Church is making efforts especially to reach out to senior adults within their community. The church has been leaving gift bags on the doorsteps of senior adults. Each bag contains snacks, crossword puzzle books, devotional books, letters from children at the church, and a note from the church’s ministry staff.
Pastor Kevin Baker of First Baptist, Ashgrove, told The Pathway that many senior adults crave a connection with other people and are struggling with loneliness as a result of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. “So we’ve been really trying to keep up the spirits of our older adults,” he said.
“It seems like a little fear and apprehension has struck the hearts of folks, and we’re wanting to try to keep them connected and let them know that everything will work out alright,” Baker added. “We’ve had a chance to actually talk with people about their faith and about where they put their hope.”
The Art of Neighboring
Many other methods are available to Missouri Baptist churches and families as they try to reach out to their neighbors while maintaining social distance.
The Art of Neighboring – a Colorado-based Christian ministry that has produced resources used by the Missouri Baptist Convention – provides other ideas in an online “COVID-19 Neighboring Toolkit.”
It’s important to maintain social distance and follow safety guidelines amid the pandemic, the toolkit says. “However, as we engage in physical distancing practices, it’s important to note that there is a big difference between social distancing and social isolation,” it reads. The toolkit encourages Christians to talk to their neighbors (from a distance) when they see them outside and to ask them how they’re coping amid the crisis.
To read more specific ideas from the toolkit about reaching out to neighbors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://www.artofneighboring.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-Neighboring-Toolkit.pdf.