It’s a very unique feeling for me to live in an area where many or maybe even most of the people weren’t born in the United States. My husband Matt and I live in Valley Ranch, which is a community in the northern part of Irving, Texas. The population here is very diverse, though a very large portion of the area identifies as Muslim or Hindu. If we’re not careful, we could easily finding ourselves merely living as parallel cultures instead of them naturally intersecting.
We have both been going to our church for about eleven years, and a few years ago, I found myself feeling a disconnect between what the Bible said we should be doing and how I was living. We have always been very involved in our church, but somehow it all felt so empty. We heard about Forge Dallas and went through the residency in January of 2015. The thing I loved the most about Forge is that it equips you to be a missionary where you are rather than everyone’s fear of needing to move somewhere less comfortable.
Thankfully, we have never felt the need to switch churches or neighborhoods. Because we know that many of the people in our neighborhood aren’t likely to go to our church, we decided to shift a lot of our volunteering from being inside the church walls to out in our community. At first it felt odd and even lonely to be pioneers without the safety net of our church planning all of our events, but we’ve been able to build some beautiful relationships as a result of being out and among our neighbors.
We are very deliberate with our interactions with others and with our routines: we try to stay close to home with our errands and our play, and we go to the events that the community association already has planned. We have taken time to understand cultural differences, and it has been so beautiful getting to have friendly chats with other parents at the playground and cashiers at our grocery store.
I love that we haven’t really had to make many changes to our lives and our routine; we just needed to open our eyes and get to know the people we see every day. God has made us more aware of the people in our area and see that we’re more alike than we are different: we’re all in need of a Savior, and I look forward to even more everyday opportunities to share our hope in Christ.
-Summer Cromartie, Forge Dallas