Why Does Presence Matter?

by Natasha

One key characteristic of MoveIners is to live right in an urban, unreached, poor neighbourhood. Rather than visit to minister while living elsewhere, we believe that something significant happens when the community we feel called to serve in becomes our own. Soon our neighbours’ challenges become our challenges, and their joys become ours as well.

We look to Jesus as our example in this - he came and lived among humankind, taking on our pain, knowing humanity in its fullness. His presence transformed all of humanity, as he was Emmanuel, "God With Us".

For me, following His example has meant being in a place that sometimes feels uncomfortable - and not always for the reasons I first expected. At the beginning, one of the biggest challenges was being in a place that was unfamiliar, and feeling quite distant (in geography and in context) from most of my close friends.

Over time, neighbours became friends who then became our community. We developed an especially close relationship with one young Bengali couple, with whom we’d share deep conversations over home-made meals. I really valued their perspective on our shared neighbourhood, as they had moved there from Bangladesh several years before and knew the challenge of being in an unfamiliar place much more than I did!

One of the most recent tensions we feel is something my neighbours also struggle with - we notice that the cost of living in our neighbourhood continues to increase as the city grows and the population spreads further from the city centre. We worry that those who struggle to afford rent will be pushed further from their jobs, and as nice coffee shops and restaurants begin to pop up around us, we wonder how our neighbourhood will change, and if we too will need to move.

One joy my neighbours and I shared recently was having our elevators replaced - in a building of over 1,000 people, having just one or two working elevators is a big source of stress! The day the first new one opened, the whole apartment building was buzzing with excitement.

So, as we’ve set up home right here in the place that we serve, the joys and struggles that our neighbours face also become our own. It is a privilege to be present here and to share life’s experiences in tangible ways, and I continue to be thankful for the sense of community and belonging I’ve felt living right here in the neighbourhood.