A young couple in Phoenix, Arizona, discovers God’s call on their lives when the roof falls in on them financially. Chris and Bethany Priebe crossed paths with a ministry called Apartment Life and found themselves on the cutting edge of a new initiative to break through the “loner culture” in Phoenix and live out the love of God among that city’s lonely apartment dwellers.
They believe Christians’ greatest ‘mission’ in Phoenix may be relationship.
In order to love one’s neighbors, one must first know who they are—a teaching that’s much easier said than done in a place like Phoenix. … Newcomers drawn in by the warm sunshine, abundant palm trees, and stunning mountains also encounter the independent spirit of the Southwest, where friendliness is oft regarded with suspicion. Many transplants who have left family behind find it difficult to adjust to a city where the scorching heat drives people inside air-conditioned homes and away from public spaces.
Many transplants come for school. Residents at the Sage Stone apartment complex in the suburb of Glendale come for a large medical college nearby. Renters there often stay for a window of time until they are assigned medical residency elsewhere, return home, or purchase a home in one of Phoenix’s many suburbs. Amid this heightened transience, neighbors are temporary, stacking the odds even further against community.
But one couple at Sage Stone has a vision for something different, and they think Christians should make it a reality. They wonder what would happen if Christians in Phoenix met new residents with a friendly smile and an invitation into relationship. Is it possible they could upend Phoenix’s loner culture?
Meet the Priebes
Chris and Bethany Priebe are giving it their best shot. The couple met at youth group in northwest Phoenix. … Once married, they moved into an apartment where work and church kept them from knocking on the door next to theirs. They dreamed of moving into a home where they could throw block parties and invite neighbors over. But even after moving, church, family and jobs perpetuated the phrase, “Tomorrow—we’ll do that tomorrow.”
Along with most other Phoenix residents, in 2007 the Priebes watched the value of their home begin to plummet. They then learned the funding for Bethany’s nonprofit job was ending. As they prayed about how to move forward with no home equity and an upcoming job loss, Bethany and Chris learned they were pregnant with twins. At 22 weeks, Bethany was hospitalized for six weeks and put on complete bed rest, with Chris sleeping on an adjacent makeshift cot. Faced with the risks to their babies as well as climbing medical bills, Chris thought, Maybe God is getting our attention. We should look at how we said we wanted to live.
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