Being a Good Neighbor – A COVID-19 Update

Good Morning Friends,

Sharon and I wanted to connect with you to let you know how we are weathering this COVID-19 storm and ministering in the midst. We also wanted to check on you to see how you and your family are doing. You are in our prayers!

First, we are healthy and virus free, as is our extended family. Of course we know this is a gift which could change any day. We are practicing social distancing and healthy guidelines as I hope you are! Teleconferencing is helping us stay connected with our extended family. We did a virtual happy hour last week which was fun to see the grandkids interact via Zoom! 

Sharon’s school was quick to adapt and she began teaching her students online two weeks ago. We are hopeful they will be able to finish out the school year in this new way. Be praying for Sharon and their school as with many small businesses their future and viability will be challenged as well as the teachers livelihood. 

Loving Community has been impacted as well. With the important guidelines of social distancing, most of our normal daily rhythms have changed. Our ministries with people are all relational and to date have been face-to-face. You guys know I am a hugger which has been hard for me to NOT do! 🙂 

Our work in schools, senior adult homes, churches, missional groups, city government and civic gatherings, as well as officiating at weddings and funerals for the most part has all changed. Notice I said changed, but in no way stopped. We are actually more engaged now than at any point in our ministry! When for others life may have slowed down, ours has actually sped up! Let me explain how and why.

This is one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Rogers. “When I was a child and I would see scary things in the news, my mom would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” 

Loving Community from its origins has been a good neighbor focused, helping organization. It’s just what we do! And though in the short term, what this looks like has changed, by no means has stopped. And the reality is that in the coming days people will need more help than ever before. Perhaps in our lifetime “being a good neighbor” has never been more needed. 

As you may remember in the Fall of 2019 God provided open doors for the work of Loving Community to grow and expand from not only Lewisville and Denton County, but now also to Frisco and McKinney in Collin County. 

In this we’ve partnered with our friends and Co-Pastors at Preston Trail Community Church, Jim Johnson and Paul Basden as they are leading Preston Trail in a new season of engaging their community. This new partnership has allowed me to have a voice in helping influence and lead thousands of people to live their faith in new and meaningful ways in the community. We are forging relationships of service in the schools, senior adult facilities, nonprofits, businesses, civic groups and with the local governments. It has been great to see God at work!

Then comes COVID-19, which is reshaping the world as we know it, and churches and faith communities are not exempt. I was drawn to the words of Dr. Karen Gleseker, an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist. “Right now, we don’t need churches to create a bunch of new programs. What we need is for people who attend those churches to simply be good neighbors and to do it in a careful and thoughtful manner.” I think she’s spot on and that’s exactly what we’re doing!

Over the past weeks we have been collaborating with churches and community leaders on multiple fronts to address the current and coming crisis. Also, we’re engaging in good neighboring ourselves in healthy and helpful ways. Some of these activities include:

  • Praying for our neighbors via a daily 3-mile prayer walk. Also staying outdoors as much as possible to have safe distance interactions with our neighbors.
  • Participating on Zoom calls with Care Pastors and Stephen Ministry Leaders with the North TX United Methodist Conference to care for people during this time of crisis.
  • Engaging with regional leaders with Unite the Church of Greater Dallas to build out collaborative responses, curating help resources and learning new best practices.
  • Working with multiple organizations like Convoy of Hope, FastPacs and LovePacs that address food insecurity, especially for school children. 
  • Collaborating with local faith alliances like Frisco Outreach Leaders and 3E McKinney to work on approaches to the coming benevolence needs of many.
  • Listening to, praying for and supporting the needs of our local nonprofits like Christian Community Action, Frisco Family Services, The Samaritan Inn and Embrace Texas.
  • Resourcing and supporting our local school districts like Frisco ISD where we are working to provide school supplies for 500 plus students.
  • Supporting and providing pastoral care for couples and families that have either had to reschedule weddings or funerals due to the social distancing guidelines.
  • Creating ways and means of helping us all reframe where we are at and how we can live, interact, and serve others in our new reality. One recourse is the below list of “15 Suggestions on Being a Good Neighbor”.

So in summary, being a good neighbor is needed more than ever! And you are a vital part of Loving Community through your prayers, financial support, friendship and yes, let’s ALL be good neighbors! 

My hope and prayer for all of us in this season is best shared in the words from my friend Tim Soerens who leads Parish Collective. He writes:

Our hope and prayer is that your long faithful presence in your neighborhood will shine even brighter in these dark and storming days. In the meantime, within all the swirling chaos, confusion, tragedy and anxiety, let’s not forget what we collectively hold so dear: 

  • We will still have the courage to discern God’s dream for our neighborhoods in this moment of heightened fear and loss. 
  • We will still have the humility to trust that God’s Spirit is on the move and that our first task is to join how God is already working in the lives of our neighbors, especially those who are the most vulnerable right now. 
  • More than ever we will re-member what it means for us to be the Body of Christ, to collaboratively knit together a fabric of care on behalf of our neighbors.

We would love to hear back from you on how you are doing, how we can be praying for you and if you have any questions.

So for now, stay safe and be well,

Jim & Sharon Mustain

15 Suggestions on Being a Good Neighbor

Oftentimes people in the same neighborhood do not know one another. This time of crisis may provide the opportunity for you to practice being a “good neighbor” in conversations and/or actions. Abiding by the suggested national and community guidelines and respecting your neighbors need for social distancing you might consider some of the following ways to connect with your neighbors:

  1. Connect and meet neighbors: Sign into your local Nextdoor app or Facebook page. These online tools can inform you of news, opportunities to serve and those who have needs in your neighborhood. Meet the neighbors around you (using social distancing guidelines) and exchange contact information. 
  1. Support local businesses: Call local businesses and restaurants to ask whether they’re open, and how you can (safely) support them. Order delivery, merchandise, or a gift card online for future use.
  1. Assist a senior adult: Some senior adults may need help with grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions or general errands as they avoid stores and other gathering places, etc.
  1. Enjoy outdoor activities: Enjoy the outdoors. No really! Don’t become housebound. Take walks in your neighborhood. Play in your local park. Exercise. Prayer walk your neighborhood. Enjoy God’s creation! 
  1. Be a host and help: Host a Facebook watch party of Preston Trail’s weekend service, or share helpful content with friends who could use some encouragement.
  1. Keep in touch with your community: Using online platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts keep connecting with your small group on a regular basis. Now is the time to stay in touch and pray with the ones you do life with, more than ever. Also consider asking a neighbor or friend to join.
  1. Give the gift of conversation: Call someone, on a regular basis to check in. Being in isolation is especially hard for those who live alone, and might feel cutoff. Even a 15-minute FaceTime call can help a neighbor, relative or friend to feel connected and loved.
  1. Give the gift of life: Blood drives across the country have been cancelled, and the American Red Cross is reporting a severe shortage of blood. Contact your local Red Cross or Carter Blood Care Center and find a location to donate.
  1. Support the people that serve you: Go ahead and send an online payment to your hairdresser, babysitter, dance teacher, or anyone who regularly serves you or might suddenly be out of work. Online tools like Venmo or Apple Pay makes this quick and easy!
  1. Share your essential supplies: If you were fortunate enough to buy extra toilet paper, wipes, disinfectant, and other essentials, consider sharing these with neighbors in need, or local shelters. 
  1. Random acts of kindness:Essential workers, first-responders, medical personnel, even busy parents who are trying to work and homeschool their kids, could really use a simple random act of kindness like a hot pizza or other meal delivery to brighten their day. 
  1. Donate to our community partners: With schools closed, many children are at risk of going hungry. Our homeless shelters are at capacity. Our community food banks are in need of supplies. Please consider donating to our community partners who are on the front lines of addressing these needs. 
  1. Think creatively and have fun: Put on a porch concert or sing a familiar song from your window. Make videos to give to senior adult homes. Chalk the walks with encouraging messages. Make greeting cards and art work for neighbors. Be a source of joy and hope! 
  1. Learn more about good neighboring: Use this time to improve your neighboring skills. You can read good books on neighboring such as Next Door As It Is In Heaven – Lance Ford & Brad Brisco or The Art of Neighboring – Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon which can be ordered on Amazon. 
  1. Share helpful tips, ideas and suggestions: Finally, you can help Preston Trail be prepared and ready to serve the community by passing along ideas or community resources you may know about. Jim Mustain our Community Pastor would love to hear from you as we gather resources. 

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