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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Lawson

Reaching the World Next Door

In the heart of bustling cities, where the cacophony of daily life drowns out individual stories, lies the potential for profound transformation. This is the essence of “Reaching the World Next Door,” a concept contemplated by Ricardo Palacios, Hispanic Ministries and Church Planting Coordinator for the Carolina Conference. Palacios emphasizes the power of compassion—from the Greek word splagchnizoma—as a driving force for ministry in urban landscapes. Drawing from the narrative of Jonah, who was called to minister to Nineveh despite its notoriety as a “city of blood,” Palacios parallels his mission to the modern challenge of reaching out to cities often perceived impenetrable fortresses of different beliefs.

When Ricardo and his family ventured into Thailand, they encountered a similar dilemma. Immediately declaring themselves as missionaries would have erected barriers with the local Buddhist

population. They established a music school, thus transforming potential walls into bridges of understanding and respect.

The early Christian church exemplified this through the apostle Paul’s strategic focus on cities like Corinth, Philippi, Athens, and Rome. Their efforts made such an impact that even Emperor Julian, ruler of Rome, observed that the Christians were doing more to care for Romans than Rome itself.

Today, churches are called to emulate this model of compassion and address the needs within their communities through incarnational ministries, thereby mimicking Christ’s ministry on earth, the ultimate bridge-building act.

“Reaching the World Next Door” is not merely a call to action; it is an invitation to introspection and a challenge to live out a “theology of intestines”—a deep, visceral compassion that moves us to transform our cities from within. The journey of reaching the world next door begins with a single, compassionate step.


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