Benji and Courtney Carlson know what it means to live on mission where they live. As Apartment CARES team members for nearly two years, the couple says they “really believed in the heart and mission of loving your neighbors and trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us.” When they decided it was time to move into a neighborhood to raise their young children and plant roots, their mindset was still as focused.
Like many people, life got in the way. Between school, T-ball, soccer, work, and the regular busy lifestyle of a young family, the Carlsons said “it seemed harder and harder to walk across the street.” But after first hearing about Love Where You Live over a year ago, Courtney and Benji decided it was time to step out of their rut.
“It started with prayer,” Courtney said. “Benji and I spent a lot of time praying and asking God what He wanted us to do and where to start. Soon after that, God started bringing people in our path.” The couple developed unique friendships over the following months, especially by getting to know the parents of their kids’ friends.
“We have families from India, Korea, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Finland. We realized we don’t have to go across the world to share Jesus – we just have to know our neighbors!”
By the time their Neighborhood Gathering rolled around earlier this spring, the Carlsons had already built a good foundation in their neighborhood, and the gathering was a chance to dive deeper into those relationships. “Since the gatherings I think there is a more genuine care and concern for our neighbors,” Courtney said. “We really have begun to build friendships and have enjoyed getting to know them and invest in them.”
Recently, the Carlsons hosted a block party for all of their neighbors. “We had over 40 people show up and over 20 kids! I think we are still in shock about it all,” Courtney said. “We have families from India, Korea, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Finland. We realized we don’t have to go across the world to share Jesus – we just have to know our neighbors!”
Courtney and Benji have witnessed God working in their neighborhood and their spiritual lives over the past year as they followed His call. “The more we leaned into Him, the more He took us to a deeper level of trust and faith,” the couple said. “We’ve been walking with God for such a long time… but we have never been more dependent and closer to God than right now as we trust Him to help reach those around us.”