Gary Sullivan was prompted to make contact with his neighbours to support the community as they become more isolated.

By Emily Ferguson

As our neighbourhoods start to experience increasing isolation and anxiety, followers of Jesus are discovering simple ways to engage rather than withdraw.

People from several Fresh Hope churches are taking hold of the opportunity through everyday gestures of neighbourly kindness.

“On Sunday I heard about someone putting notes in their neighbours’ letterboxes and I just knew I had to do the same thing,” said Coast Community Church member Gary Sullivan. “We spent the next three days printing and delivering around 160 letters introducing ourselves and offering to help where we can.

“It’s so easy to place something in a letterbox and let God do the work. I’ve been praying as I’ve been delivering the letters, for them to go with His power and strength into the homes and that if there are needs that they will respond.

“We’ve had so many really nice responses. One lady has started a WhatsApp group so everyone can communicate with each other. I’ve had an offer from a chaplain and counsellor who is available to talk with anyone who is feeling down. One guy is just getting over cancer and said he would love a phone call occasionally and may need some supplies. One message said their family cried when they read the letter.

“If ever there was an opportunity for the Church to show relevance to their community, even in a small way, this is it. There are a lot of people who are feeling alone and afraid and are quite receptive to hearing from you.”

Mayfield Church of Christ has designed a similar flyer for their church community to personalise and drop into letterboxes around their homes. Conscious of God’s invitation to join Him in the neighbourhood, they want to be focusing on what God is calling them into, rather than on the activities they have suspended.

“We are asking God what spaces He is calling us to enter and thinking about what resources we have as a church to call upon as time wears on,” said Emily Drough, leader at Mayfield Church of Christ. “It might be that God simply asks us to be a non-anxious presence in our places of work, but it also could mean putting it out there that we’re happy to pray for people, or sending a text offering support or practical help.

“For now, we have just done small things. As well as the flyer, we connected with the primary school over the road where we have a vibrant network. We said to those who had been coming to our community barbeque – many of whom are already vulnerable – that no matter what happens, someone will be there to connect with them, and that they can contact us if they need anything.”

Find more stories of Fresh Hope here.