There is a phrase that we often repeat here at West Salem Foursquare. While simple in language and in concept, it has the ability to make a huge impact. It goes: Love Your City. Perhaps the brilliance of this statement is that it transcends beyond my city and this moment in time. I love what the prophet Jeremiah writes to the exiled Israelites in Babylon. He says, “Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce...seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7, NIV). Even though they were living in a land not their own, in a land that did not follow their God, Israel was told to build a life there. To do good there. Basically, to love their (new) city.
I don’t think I need to convince you of why you should love your city. We are ambassadors of Christ and his love, which we should represent in every encounter we have with others. I’m sure what your more interested in is how to do it. Sure, there are events that you can put on for your community that will make an impact. Those are very good indeed. But beyond that, there are two things we practice here at West Salem Foursquare that show our love for our city.
The first is to Be Present. Be a part of what is happening in your city. Build relationships with your baristas, your local business owners, your teachers and schools. Go to community events. Open your eyes to what God is already doing in people’s lives and listen to the needs of your city. The second is to Be Positive. Be recognized as someone who has the love of God and the fruit of the Spirit. Show a willingness to serve without expectations. Look for ways to be a blessing to the hurting.
When you’re present and positive, God will provide the opportunities. I get to love with my city with a great team. Some of whom have lived here for many years and some who have recently transplanted. But all of whom God has given a heart for Salem. There are great things God is doing here, and we want to be part of it!
Megan Whitney('10) has been serving as the Elementary Coordinator with West Salem Foursquare Church in Salem, Oregon. For more Alumni Stories, read "Three Churches. One Tribe."