The BCC Compass – Nov 2023
One of my favorite theologians is Rev. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” An ordained Presbyterian Minister, the impact of his teachings has crossed many generations.
I recently shared one of his quotes with a group of our senior leaders during our centering moment:
“It’s no secret that I like to get to know people–and not just the outside stuff of their lives. I like to try to understand the meaning of who people are and what they’re saying to me.”
As I offered a reflection, I mentioned that it takes time and intention to get to know your neighbor. If we really want to know who our neighbor is, we must be intentional with the methods to get to know them. Approaching with an open mind, rather than a bias or prejudgment, is an ideal way to meet with your neighbor.
During this same meeting, Ruth Wong De Balderas and Sharnett Kelly, leaders in our Baltimore Caminos Program, shared their experience of a cultural immersion trip with the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to the Mexico and California border. The group traveled to the area where those seeking asylum were detained, then released. The purpose of this trip was to invite people to experience what the migrants to this country have experienced. The group was able to interact with other organizations providing services to the migrant community.
One of our core values at BCC is empathy. Empathy is allowing yourself to experience what others may be going through, and through empathy we can develop compassion. Sharnett and Ruth both expressed the importance of understanding and experiencing what the kids they care for have gone through. It allows them to be better caretakers and gives them a deeper understanding of how to provide for these children.
Our BCC neighborhood encourages others to get to know their neighbors. When we know who our neighbors are, it makes it less difficult for us to care for and understand them. Many conflicts and animosity can be avoided if we get the chance to know our neighbor.
Immigration is a hot button topic and people have passionate opinions on both sides of the issue. One of the stories that I like to share is about one of my military colleagues who was present during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the planes filled up, commanders noticed that children were being left with Soldiers or being tossed over the walls in desperation. Leadership said “Chaplain, we need an orphanage.” The chaplains present there established an orphanage where they ensured the safety of the children. She cataloged more than 300 kids, and they all were flown back to the states. She did not know what happened to those children after they left Afghanistan.
A year later, I met with her and she told me that story. I looked at her and told her that some of those kids ended up at the Board of Child Care and they were safe and being loved here in the United States. It brought a sense of relief and closure to her.
Stop and get to know your neighbor’s story. You never know who might be in the neighborhood.