Words are powerful tools that can change lives, open doors and start conversations – and that is the goal several churches and the Waxahachie Project hope to achieve through their new endeavor, the Love Your Neighbor Project.
The mission of the project is to see the community transformed to reflect the values and hopes of the best that can be. It seeks to make this transformation through the placement and distribution of scripture in as many places as possible.
Waxahachie Bible Church pastor Bruce Zimmerman said the idea came about reading the parable of the sower in the Book of Matthew. It talks about the sower scattering seed indiscriminately and not just in one location.
“The way that Jesus explains the parable is that the seed is the word,” Zimmerman said. “I wonder, many times, if we are doing it wrong. Many times, we are sowing the seed in the church but we are sowing it outside.
“Jesus said the field is the world,” Zimmerman said. “I got to thinking this past summer about what would happen if that were multiplied all over this town. So, we started thinking and started talking to other pastors and getting our ideas. We came up with doing a collaborative effort of doing a scripture saturation.”
Zimmerman said one organization that has transformed its environment in this manner is Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie.
“When my wife was in there having surgery for cancer, they had scriptures on the elevators and scripture in some of the rooms,” Zimmerman said. “Every morning and every night they came over and explained their mission statement that this is a ministry of Jesus Christ, not only caring for the physical needs but also the spiritual needs of our patients, staff and families.
“I thought that was the coolest thing and they read scripture,” Zimmerman said. “They have a devotion in the morning and at night. Chris York (former hospital president) is the one that implemented this and it has changed the whole atmosphere of the hospital.”
The Love Your Neighbor Project has unofficially started with several businesses and organizations coming on board. Its official start will be in January. The project has a monthly theme and scriptures of eight words or less that reflect that theme.
The goal is to have the monthly themes and scriptures placed on marquees donated for the project’s use, billboards, social media platforms and videos, and placed inside businesses with signs and cards people can take. People can also hand out the monthly card that bears the theme and scripture. The themes include unity, love, forgiveness, hope, respect, grace, freedom, patience, honesty, life, thanks and giving.
“Love Your Neighbor translates into the way that we forgive, the way we serve, the way we show patience and the way that we show humility and the way we show grace,” Zimmerman said. “All of those things. It is all under the umbrella of Love Your Neighbor.
“We picked Love Your Neighbor because it is the words of Jesus,” he said. “I hope that a lot of people will embrace that no matter what.”
The response has been good from the community so far, said Zimmerman, who hopes the project will open more doors and start more conversations with people – and foster a change that can spread beyond Waxahachie.
“The goal is to take this Love Your Neighbor and spread it throughout Ellis County,” Zimmerman said. “We have got interest from Red Oak and Midlothian that want to be a part of it. Next year, 2020, is the rollout for Waxahachie.
“We hope to roll this out to the rest of the county somewhere down the road,” he said. “That is the strategy. The Lord will have to enable it to happen but we are excited about the possibilities.”
People who wish to donate to the program can do so at the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, located at 102 YMCA Drive. Donations need to be made out to the Waxahachie Project. Stickers, seed packets and buttons can be picked up at the chamber’s office and people can also purchase T-shirts with the project’s logo.
More information about the Love Your Neighbor Project can be found online at www.YourNeighbor.live. People can also contact Zimmerman at Waxahachie Bible Church at 972-937-9590.