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Site Director Highlight: John Kirts, Fort Worth

Be The Neighbor Site Directors work with local nonprofits and subject matter experts to plan a trip that teaches participants about the different topics impacting the communities they serve, and many communities around the United States. They work hard to develop our trips and we couldn't fulfill our mission to live lives of love, service, and justice without them. We find them all inspiring and want to share with you, so that you can be inspired too!

John Kirts will be leading six weeks of trips in Fort Worth in 2024! Some of the groups will focus on food insecurity, while others will learn about refugee welcome.

How long have you worked with Be The Neighbor?

I had the incredible opportunity to work as an intern last summer in Fort Worth. This will be my second year.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

As a first-year Site Director, I'm looking back at the transformative summer that I had as an intern last year, of witnessing what's possible when we partner with our neighbors, with each other, and with God. I’m looking forward to introducing this summer’s groups to our wonderful community partners. I’m eager to experience and share the beauty of doing justice work with our neighbors.

Tell us more about the justice topic that groups will focus on at your site. How does that issue impact your community? Tell us about your passion for that topic.

Trips in Fort Worth center on Hunger Relief or on Refugee Welcome. Scriptures tell us that Jesus and his family were refugees, displaced by fear of persecution, and that to be like him we are called to welcome the stranger as we would welcome Jesus. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the destination for many families seeking asylum, resettling through refugee agencies, and bearing testimony of hope for the future. The need for transportation, language classes, residency, and community support are vital to our newly-arrived neighbors in Fort Worth. My experience teaching at the International Newcomers Academy grounded my conviction in the need for compassion and a willingness to learn from the refugees, migrants, and asylees in our community.

Food scarcity is not a natural occurrence, but a human-made political reality. Fort Worth is home to one-in-five Texan children who do not know where their next meal will come from and sees increasing need for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. As followers of Jesus, our invitation to a table that is wide, where all are welcome, gives us the responsibility not only to make space at the table for our neighbors but also to partner with organizations combating the sources of economic inequity. I firmly believe that in God’s good world there is enough for everyone, and there is abundance by nature. Ensuring each of our neighbors has access to housing, nutrition, and community support is at the center of what it means to be the neighbor Jesus calls us to be.

What does your life look like when you're not being a Site Director for Be The Neighbor?

Apart from Be the Neighbor, you may find me tending to sourdough starters and baking, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, seeking out old trees to climb and being in nature, or in awe of something about language. I’ve taught high school English in Mansfield, TX since graduating from Brite Divinity School in May 2023, where I found joy and

love in my partner, Anna, who now lives in NW Arkansas. I’m happiest when absorbed in conversation, watching anime, or reading fiction with a cup of tea close by.


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