My summer at NeighborLink has been quite the opposite of what I expected it to be. After hearing from fellow students at Indiana Wesleyan about their internship experience, I expected my summer to go similarly to theirs. As a marketing intern, I was told my work would center around mundane tasks that wouldn’t necessarily benefit me, but that would substantially benefit others. I was warned that I would be filing and printing papers, running errands for my coworkers, and doing things that would not aid me in the long run – and that’s okay!
But boy, have they been proven wrong. Not only have I been gaining marketing experience through social media work, video observation, and event planning, but as a person I have felt, and seen, an immense amount of growth in myself as a person. When I first heard about NeighborLink, I never had a clear understanding of what they did. As time went on, and as I learned the mission of their work, I have taken away the idea that each person I encounter is solely a neighbor rather than a stranger. My whole perspective has shifted, and this is by the grace of God. A few weeks ago, we had a team retreat and the main topic conversed centered around how to love your neighbor. I was reminded that not only do I need to be obedient to the negative things in life, but I also need to be obedient to the positive things. This includes serving others in a selfless and loving way. My work here at NeighborLink allows me to portray the great work NeighborLink does through social media posts. I highlight the completed projects, while also showcasing the needed help in the city.
I can’t believe I have had the experiences and opportunities that I have. Two months ago, I was extremely discouraged when a potential internship in Grand Rapids, Michigan didn’t work out because of Covid. Sitting here today, writing this blog, I can clearly see God’s hand on my life and the path he has for me. Without NeighborLink, I wouldn’t have had the great perspective shift that I have experienced. God knew what I needed; therefore, he closed one door and opened another. This internship has also taught me the importance of the “WHYs” in our lives. Each decision an individual makes is because of some sort of “why”. For example, NeighborLink serves their neighbors. Why? Well, because Jesus served others. As a Christ follower, I strive to follow Jesus each day. For me, following Jesus means that everything I do, say, and think should be glorifying to Him. 1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” This verse clearly signifies NeighborLink, their mission, and the work produced by each individual, employee, and volunteer. NeighborLink has allowed me to have a change of heart to those I don’t personally know. Being an intern here has also caused me to reevaluate obedience, and how I should practice positive and negative obedience in my life. Overall, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside NeighborLink this summer, and I am eagerly anticipating to see God move in many more ways than expected.
Everyone belongs here at NeighborLink. Before I started working as an intern this summer, I didn’t know if that was true. I was hesitant in some ways. Would we avoid certain neighborhoods based on appearance? Would we disqualify certain volunteers based on what church they were a part of? I soon realized just how inclusive and special of an organization NeighborLink truly is. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, there’s a place for you here. To serve and be served.
No matter what you look like, what you believe, how you live, or what abilities you have, there’s a place here at NeighborLink for you to experience the joy and purpose of loving your neighbor in a practical way. I’m so thankful to be an intern with a group of people who really want everyone in our community to participate and experience the love of God.
A couple weeks ago, the NeighborLink staff went on a retreat to unite as a team and fix our eyes on Jesus. A couple verses that we focused a lot on were John 13:34-35. Here Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our biggest, most profound, and compelling proof of our love for Jesus is our love for one another. In fact, later in the Bible it says that if we say we love God but hate our brothers and sisters, we’re liars, and the love of God is not in us.
Being a part of this organization means we not only love in word, by praying together, and encouraging neighbors - we love by our actions. We practice what we preach. We build ramps, we paint garages, we mow lawns. One of my favorite projects I’ve been able to work with so far is helping put a new roof on a house. These neighbors we helped were in a lot of need. The couple was older and the wife had recently been hospitalized and couldn’t walk. And I had the opportunity to be a small part in making their lives better. Not as their hero but as their friend.
And that’s what NeighborLink is all about, showing us because of Jesus, we all belong to each other. We’re all brothers and sisters. There are no enemies, only neighbors. Only friends.
The NeighborLink Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Eric Wood as the new Executive Director of NeighborLink Fort Wayne effective May 20. Eric, a Fort Wayne native, returns to the community after living in Portland, Maine for the last seven years. Eric's desire is to help equip the local Church of Fort Wayne to be the neighbors we were born to be by serving the City's vulnerable homeowners.
Since 2003, NeighborLink's mission has been practical neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God's love. NeighborLink's vision is to develop neighborhoods through the tangible acts of kindness of concerned and committed neighbors.
"Eric joins a solid team, a foundation of stability, and several years of continued growth that gives us the confidence that the best years are yet to come. Eric's pastoral and servant leader experience will enhance the organization as it works to solve problems to complex issues facing vulnerable neighbors and neighborhoods with a heart for bringing the love of Jesus to our neighbors," says John Barce, President of the Board.
"It's the honor of my life to serve the neighbors of Fort Wayne through NeighborLink as Executive Director," says Wood. "In the chaos of the past year, our neighbors need us. Our neighbors need folks willing to see them, serve them, and show them love in simple, everyday ways. I look forward to returning to the simplicity of loving our neighbors as ourselves alongside the community for the sake of the city we all love."