**Editor’s Note: Occasionally we work with guest bloggers to share stories of beautiful life and hope. Please enjoy this beautiful story from Lori Harris.
I live in the south, right next to the wrong side of the railroad tracks, where poverty runs deep and racism even deeper. My neighbors live in dilapidated homes with sparse pantries and drafty windows, hustling to make ends meet.
Under dressed children get lost in oversized sweatshirts and they roam the neighborhood with nowhere to go, their parents lost in the frayed edges of their tattered lives. Dogs are chained to trees, cars rest on blocks, and litter rolls across yards when the wind blows.
Life is brutal in my zip code.
But it’s also beautiful.
The Man and I have lived on Avent street with our six children for three years now. We moved in armed with rosy colored glasses, Jesus, and the desire to plant a church among the poor.
We just had no idea that the poor would worm their way into the fiber of our life, weaving their bare threads among our sturdier ones making the fabric of our days rich beyond measure. We didn’t know that the poor would become our neighbors. And we were shell-shocked when God began to shift our hearts from the focus of planting a church to intentionally loving our neighbors in the name of Jesus, leaving the business of building a church to the only One who can do that.
And as we began to love our neighbors, we began to seek their welfare in tangible ways.
We began to teach them how to manage their food better while giving them ways to provide healthier meals.
We began having an open gate policy, providing a safe place for the neighborhood kids to play.
And we began to dream small dreams that would improve the overall lives of the people in our neck of the woods.
We simply became agents of hope bearing the name of Jesus.
And this is what Vi Bella does.
Vi Bella comes alongside the poor, the broken and the downtrodden bringing hope in a tangible way called a job.
They teach a trade, provide a safe working environment and give the women living in poverty in Haiti, Mexico and the United States an opportunity to relish in the dignity that comes with being able to provide for one’s family.
Vi Bella takes the discarded things of life and transforms the trash into bits of treasure that not only make beautiful pieces of jewelry, but beautiful lives as well. They breathe hope into communities by meeting basic human needs and making a way for families who would normally struggle to survive an opportunity to thrive. Mothers who learn a trade and make a living, no longer have to place their children in orphanages. Women who previously sold their bodies, now take pride in an education.
And where despair once withered hearts, Hope is springing forth new life.
If Jesus is stirring your heart to consider the least of these–and let me go ahead and tell you that He is–then let me encourage you to find a way to come alongside Vi Bella and the women they love. You could purchase something beautiful for yourself or a friend or you could host a Beautiful Life Gathering. Or maybe you’re jumping at the bits to do something a little more. Maybe you’d like to partner with Vi Bella long-term and become an ambassador.
However you choose to respond to Jesus and His commandment to love your neighbors is up to you. The margins are wide and the commandment is simple.
But it is a commandment.
And I think Jesus does some of His best work when believers come alongside the poor as neighbors loving neighbors.
I’m wearing 2 pieces from the new Spring catalog that is out now! The Eva Necklace, made from rolled and glued paper and the Sienna earrings made from metal. The Eva necklace has been my go-to piece the last week and such a great conversation starter. Love sharing the story behind my handmade piece of hope and beauty.
Lori Harris is a Southern born, Texas-missing girl, who is rearing her six kids in a neighborhood some would call the ‘hood. She and her bi-vocational husband have planted Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount on the wrong side of the railroad tracks where poverty runs deep and racism even deeper. She coordinates a city-wide MOPS group, passes out PBJs to the neighborhood kids, and brews coffee just to make the house smell like Jesus. She writes at loriharris.me.