echo ''; Skip to main content

Christians say they believe we should do justice and love mercy, but what happens when hundreds of people take that seriously? 15 stories from the unusual lifestyle of Love Thy Neighborhood.



#14: Where the Gospel Meets #LTNlife

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Hey guys, it’s Jesse. And before we get to today’s episode, I’ve got three announcements for you. Number one is that we are looking for folks to be a part of the Love Thy Neighborhood program beginning this September, and the application deadline to join us for the next year, it’s coming up very soon in July. So head over to our website to apply now. The second announcement is that we have been keeping a secret from you. We’ve actually been working on a secret side project, and we’re about to tell you what that is — in the next episode. So, on July 10, during our next episode of the LTN podcast, we’re gonna announce to you what it is that we have been working on. And finally the third thing, which we have been so excited about, is this. We have had some donors come forward and offer $40,000 in matching funds. All they’ve said is, we just need to go find the other $40,000. So we are hoping that you would step up and help us out by donating and helping us acquire this $40,000. So the way that you donate to help us is by heading over to our website, which is, and when you click on the donate button it will take you to a page and then just select ‘matching campaign – summer 2018.’ It’s just that simple. And whatever funds you give will be put directly towards that matching gift. So this is your chance to make a huge difference in the lives of hurting people. And now, I hope you enjoy today’s episode. 


AUDIO CLIP FROM MOVE-IN DAY: Is this the right place to move in?… Yes, yes… Okay, awesome… I’m Jess… Jess? Rachel… Rachel, good to meet you… Hello!… Hey, I’m Jesse… Hi, I’m Hannah… Hey Hannah, nice to meet you… You too… Welcome, welcome… I’ve been listening to your voice all day on the podcast (laughter)

JESSE EUBANKS: Each year, more than 40 young adults move to the city of Louisville, Kentucky. And they come here to be a part of Love Thy Neighborhood. And you’ve heard us say it before — at Love Thy Neighborhood, we offer social justice internships supported by Christian community. 

AUDIO CLIP: Are you checking in right now?… Yeah… You get checked in?…

JESSE EUBANKS: But instead of just telling you what Love Thy Neighborhood is, today we thought — why not let you hear it for yourself?

AUDIO CLIP: Hi, I’m Sam… Welcome to Louisville…


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

JANELLE DAWKINS: And I’m Janelle Dawkins. Each episode we hear stories of social justice and Christian community.

JESSE EUBANKS: Today’s episode is where the gospel meets the LTN life. And today — we’re doing things a little different. Instead of one long story, we’re bringing you lots of stories. Short stories, fast stories. Sad stories, funny stories. Like Polaroid snapshots into what life is like as an LTN intern. And I have one of those interns with me here in the studio. Hey Janelle. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Janelle’s been serving with us for almost an entire year now. And she’ll be joining me as we share with you 15 short stories from both current interns and alumni. And about why, year after year, young adults keep showing up to our city. Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


JESSE EUBANKS: Back in 2005 there was an empty apartment at Louisville Rescue Mission. And I actually ended up proposing to them this crazy idea of having young adults move into the apartment to make their lives all about following Jesus and loving the homeless men and women that came through their doors every day. And surprisingly, three men decided to move into the shelter to be a part of this program. These three men — they became the very beginning of Love Thy Neighborhood.

JANELLE DAWKINS: So, fast forward 13 years later, now we have not just three people, but 46 men and women serving in Louisville. And they’re not just serving people who are homeless. They’re doing behind-the-scenes work at dozens of nonprofits serving refugees, women in the sex industry, at-risk youth, and low-income families. 

JESSE EUBANKS: But they’re not just doing good for the sake of doing good. Here at Love Thy Neighborhood, our model is Acts chapter two. In Acts we’re given the story of the early church. And here is how the church is described in chapter two — ‘And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.’

JANELLE DAWKINS: This passage has three things in it — discipleship, community, and social action.

JESSE EUBANKS: And those are the pillars of Love Thy Neighborhood and what our 15 stories will be about today. So Janelle, kick us off.

JANELLE DAWKINS: Alright. Story #1 — A Tale of Two Parlors.

AUDIO CLIP: Car opening

JANELLE DAWKINS: So I went to go visit my roommate Ruth and she’s from England and she’s interning at Scarlet Hope right now. Scarlet Hope helps women who are working in the sex industry. And so every Thursday, Ruth goes out to do outreach. So Ruth starts her Thursdays in the Hope House doing devotions in their living room. It’s an atmosphere of quiet and peace. She’ll soon find herself elsewhere though in the city, in a completely different living room with a completely different atmosphere.

RUTH: Basically it’s just like a house setting. And so you walk in, and it’s just like a sitting room, just couches and — it’s really weird, cuz the atmosphere’s just like the living room and you’re just there and you’re chatting and you see the girls and then it changes a little bit, especially if you see the guys. The first time that I went, I saw like the guy in the corner of my eye and I think that’s when it hit me like what actually happens, what goes on there.

JANELLE DAWKINS: So Ruth actually spends her time on Thursdays in the massage parlors. So on one hand, it feels like your average living room with couches and a very comfortable feeling. But then on the other hand, there’s women who are being exploited for sex there. But Ruth goes and she brings food for the ladies and she also builds relationships with the women who work there. 

RUTH: Yes, Thursday’s our long day. (laughs) Thursday’s our long day. And but I think that my favorite day, even though it does mess with your mind and it’s really sad and emotionally it can be draining, but there’s something about the spa that I really like and that I like going and building relationships.

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #2 — Toasted Butter. Living in close quarters with your teammates, it shows you things about yourself that you never noticed before. And sometimes those things, they can be as simple as the way that you make toast. Here’s alumni Aaron and his teammate Will.

AARON: It’s 10:30, and we’re starting to get tired because we’ve had a long day. So we’re going to make some tea or coffee, but like also some food. So like Will offers to make me some toast and he got out two pieces of bread and then he puts it in the toaster and then I looked at him like ‘What are you doing?’ And he’s like ‘What do you mean? I’m making toast’ And I was like ‘But aren’t you going to put butter on it?’ 

WILL: And I looked at him for like a good like 10 seconds straight, just dumbfounded. I was just like ‘Who, who, what? Who are you? Like you put butter on your toast before you put it in the toaster?’ 

AARON: I never had a toaster before LTN. But then I thought that was part of the toasting-making process. So he made it the correct way, the proper toast way, and put butter on after it was toasted, and then I ate some and it was just like ‘Oh, this tastes better than my way.’ And so, I was, yeah, I was impressed.

JANELLE DAWKINS: Story #3 — Season of Singleness. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So here at LTN, you’re not allowed to start any new dating relationships while you’re in the program. And the reason for this is because new relationships just take up so much of our energy. That’s not what this program is about. This program is about spending time with neighbors and spending time with people that are in need here in the city. And so, for this brief period of their life, everyone commits to remaining single.

JANELLE DAWKINS: Well, here’s what some of the interns had to say about that. And since you love music so much Jesse, I went ahead and turned it into a remix for ya.

REMIX: Season of singleness… They told us at the beginning people would have feelings for each other and that’s a natural thing, nat-nat-natural thing… How can we pursue people and get to know them in a way that we don’t have extra motives as friends?… When I was a teenager, I thought that I was going to be married and have kids. I’m 27 now. That’s not the case, not the case, not, not the case… Like I’ve been single for 24 years of my life. It is the status quo of my life… Seasons of singleness… Through a lot of college, it was just like ‘Alright, I’ve gotta find that perfect girl or else.’ I was so distracted by that, but that was like such a big focus of mine during that time… Focus… Sometimes you need to be in a community that can intensely hyperfocus on the things that really matter, people, your neighbors, yourself, your relationship with the Lord… Com-com-committed to singleness… Okay, this is more than just a normal internship, like this is like a whole lifestyle, like… 

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s amazing. 

Story #4 — Not What I Expected. Interns spend between eight and 10 hours each week out in their neighborhoods, getting to know neighbors and building relationships. And these outings, they just rarely go as planned. Here’s current intern Hong on the basketball court.


HONG: So we’re playing basketball out here in the neighborhood and this intimidating looking guy walks up and he’s like ‘Hey, let’s play fours.’ And he’s muscular, covered with tats, and he has this big pitbull on a chain leash and he’s not smiling. So we start playing, and I end up guarding him. And someone got into a little scrap with him, and they were about to start fighting. But he, he just pulled away and went over to the other part of the court. Um, so I just thought, ‘Well, today is Saturday, it’s outreach day, like we’re supposed to invite people over for dinner. I’m gonna invite him, and then I’ll just let him say no. Because like why would he say yes?’ So I invite him, he says yes, and we continue to talk and he says, ‘You like NBA 2K?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but we can’t have TVs.’ So what ends up happening is this dude brings a TV and an Xbox to our home. He’s never met any of us before, and we just eat pizza, talk trash, and play NBA 2K. And we’re still friends. 


JANELLE DAWKINS: Story #5 — A Hair Over the Line. A lot of times we find ourselves navigating new spaces, and so this particular story is about Ashley, who is an alum, as well as Jordan, her previous roommate. So one thing to note is that Ashley is African-American, and Jordan, her roommate, is Caucasian. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and I mean a lot of our interns come from different backgrounds, different socioeconomic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds. Y’know, we’re like this crazy petri dish, y’know, that brings all these different folks together. 

JANELLE DAWKINS: Exactly, exactly. Ashley invites her roommate Jordan to come with her to the beauty supply store, and Jordan, well, she suddenly found herself in a situation she hadn’t really anticipated. 

JORDAN: It had been explained that it was specifically for black hair products, and when we got there, they started to get out of the car and I was like ‘Should I stay here? Should I come?’

ASHLEY: Like she, she didn’t feel comfortable going in there. We were just like ‘No, just like come in with us. Like it’ll be fun.’ 

JORDAN: Well they had a lot of things I had never really seen before in one spot, so. There were a ton of wigs, a ton of weaves, products that I had heard about or seen people wearing but not, I had never seen in a store or any like — not in Target…

ASHLEY: She wanted to get like hair rollers for her hair, and she was asking me like ‘Will these work?’ She pulled out some hair rollers, and she asked me if they would work on her hair. And I was like ‘I honestly don’t know. You should ask one of the people in the store and see if they would be able to help you.’ She’s like ‘No, like I feel like weird asking that.’ And I was like ‘Why — just ask. Like it’s no big deal. Like they’ll help you.’ 

JORDAN: I chose not to because I didn’t want to approach the counter. I don’t know, I felt like I was crossing boundaries that weren’t — it wasn’t my place to cross necessarily. I don’t know, it was an experience.

ASHLEY: I knew she did feel very uncomfortable. But I was glad, honestly, that she did it, that she came in. We can easily be very self-conscious about our hair because it’s so different, so just having little conversations about hair, like that’s a huge, such a huge thing for me. So I was glad that she came in. It’s a simple thing sometimes.

JESSE EUBANKS: Coming up — conflict arises, in ministry and at home. We’ll be right back.


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

JANELLE DAWKINS: And I’m Janelle Dawkins. Today’s episode is where the gospel meets the LTN life. 

JESSE EUBANKS: We’re bringing you 15 short stories about what it’s like to serve with LTN. And folks are always super excited when they first get here. If you’ve ever been to summer camp or on a short-term mission trip, you know that there’s sort of a spiritual high that comes with that experience. And here at LTN, we call it the honeymoon phase, when you’re meeting lots of people and everyone’s really nice to you and you love hanging out with your team and you feel like you’re changing the world. But then after about a month or so, the honeymoon is over and you realize things aren’t going exactly the way you thought that they would. 

JANELLE DAWKINS: And that brings us to Story #6 — Don’t Hang Up. Intern Annie served for a year with BsideU for Life, which is a crisis pregnancy resource center here in Louisville. What she didn’t know is that often women would call mistaking BsideU for Life for the abortion clinic, which was right next door. 

ANNIE: Because I remember this lady called and she just was like ‘How much, how much for an abortion?’ And I was like ‘Oh, we don’t, we don’t do that here.’ Like I was trying to do the, like, tell them what we do and like ‘you should come in for a free ultrasound,’ and like my words just were not forming. And she was like ‘Okay, click’ and just like hung up on me, and I was like ‘No, no, no, no, no. Like how can I call this lady back?’ And they were like ‘You can’t.’ Like you have to — like that’s one thing, is those calls are gonna happen and sometimes it works where you say ‘Hey, let’s bring you in, free ultrasound’ and there’s like ‘Yes, thank you,’ and there’s some women who don’t want that at all. And thinking back to it, I’m like, ah, that was so hard to come to grips with that and realize that that was like nothing that I could’ve done.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #7 — You Foiled My Plans. One thing we see repeatedly here at Love Thy Neighborhood is young adults come in and they have this very idealistic, romanticized idea of what their time here will look like. But most of the time, what we think something is going to be like and what it’s actually like, that ends up being very different. Intern Carrie works with women in the adult entertainment industry. Here she is sharing her frustrations with her team.

CARRIE: I think a few weeks into going to Club 22, I was like — I had like a lot of really good relationships that I started to feel like were forming and I felt like the Lord gave me all these new opportunities to like hang out outside of the club. And then they just dropped off the face of the earth basically. I’ve called them and texted them, and they’re probably annoyed with me. I like felt like a failure for like not being enough for them, learning that I am not a savior. Yeah, I’ve just like put a lot of weight on myself to be that person who’s like ‘We’re going to be best friends, and you’re going to leave the club.’ Which that was not the case for them. I feel like if I have all the good intentions and like the Lord is with me, then there should be fruit. 

Very seldom will we all see, plant the seed, see the seed watered by the Lord, and reap the harvest. Like very few of us will see all of those pieces of the puzzle for the kingdom.

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #8 — We Are Like Hawks. Our interns live together with their teammates. And some households, they can have up to 17 people living in them. So what’s it like sharing a house with so many folks? Here’s a typical morning in one of our men’s houses.

AUDIO CLIP: …He got right back in bed… He said ‘nah, I’m good’… He said ‘someone else is in the shower’… You’ve gotta stand next to it, bro. If you’re in bed, we’re a bunch of hawks here waiting on our prey of the shower…

JANELLE DAWKINS: Story #9 — Vomit Burgers. If you’ve ever lived with another human being, you know that it can be challenging at times. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, that would qualify every person who’s ever lived. I think all of us have lived with people. Yeah, it is super challenging. 

JANELLE DAWKINS: Especially when you’re an intern and you have to cook for your entire household and tastes vary. So Jesse, I have this awesome story about our podcasting producer Rachel and her former teammate Kiana.

RACHEL SZABO: I eat like I guess kinda healthy, so I was like ‘I’ll make my own veggie burgers.’ And somehow we had eggplant. And I was like ‘Oh, I can use this eggplant and make burgers.’

KIANA BROWN: So Rachel had this thought and I walk down the stairs and the kitchen is right there and I look over to see Rachel has her hand out in front of her face what looks like she has just thrown up in her hand…

RACHEL SZABO: I did not use the recipe.


RACHEL SZABO: I just made it up. And so I’m trying to remember what I put in it.

KIANA BROWN: You didn’t put — you were like ‘I’m not gonna put any eggs.’

RACHEL SZABO: I put oats in it. I probably put oats in it.

KIANA BROWN: Yeah, so I do remember there was oats. It was a veggie oatmeal water patty. And then she proceeds to put it in a skillet and cook it. 

RACHEL SZABO: I’ll cook it, and then it’ll like harden. Y’know, like when you put eggs in a skillet and they’re runny and then they cook and they solidify and then they’re one thing. 

KIANA BROWN: Except there are no eggs in said patty. (laughter)

RACHEL SZABO: The concept. I was going with the concept.

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #10 — And They Devoted Themselves. Despite the ups and downs of ministry and living in community, we encourage interns to stay grounded in truth — the truth that we are united in Christ and we are loved by him. Every morning each household shares an hour of silence and solitude before starting their day. But before they even begin that hour, they have five minutes together where they reflect on a passage of Scripture. Here’s current intern Trevor sharing with his team.

TREVOR: Uh, I was reading over Psalm 63 and it was just very powerful and I’d like to share with you guys. Uh, it says this — ‘You, God, are my God. Earnestly I seek you. I thirst for you. My whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water.’ And then he continues on saying ‘his love is better than life.’ So that just kind of gave me hope that even when I feel down, even if I feel like my service site, uh, is just a lot of work and I’m really tired or I’m really tired from community outreach, I can continue to say to myself ‘Lord, you are my God and I earnestly seek and I earnestly run towards you.’ Yeah, so let me pray for us and our day, and then we can, uh, go out to our service site.

JESSE EUBANKS: Up next — stories of change and a bizarre Louisville tradition. Stay with us.


JESSE EUBANKS: Welcome back to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

JANELLE DAWKINS: And I’m Janelle Dawkins. Today’s episode is where the gospel meets the LTN life. We’re telling 15 short stories about serving with Love Thy Neighborhood.

JESSE EUBANKS: There’s only five stories left, and our next story is about a strictly Louisville experience. Story #11: The Strangest Two Minutes in Sports.


JESSE EUBANKS: So the first Saturday in May is a big day in Louisville. More than 170,000 people converge on our city for the Kentucky Derby. And Derby is just second nature to those of us that live in the city, almost like a religious holiday. We close down school the day before the Derby so that as many of us as possible can make our way to the track. And we realize that to outsiders this might seem a little strange, but Janelle, you actually had the opportunity to go to the Derby yourself. So as a newcomer, what was that like for you?

JANELLE DAWKINS: So before I got there, I was expecting a little bit of Mary Poppins mixed with a little bit of My Fair Lady with a dash of Pretty Woman. When I got there, it was like that, except if Mary Poppins had a flask in her carpet bag, and we’re all scrunched together and you can barely move. And we’re just watching and waiting as the trumpets are blaring and all of a sudden you can hear the gates snap open and they’re off. 


JANELLE DAWKINS: The crowd was jumping, they kept getting more animated and louder, and it’s really hard not to catch the fever as you’re standing there. And I got the fever, and I started cheering and jumping up  with them. (laughs) And so it was exciting, and I’m glad that I got to go. And Mom, as a disclaimer, I did not gamble. I just want you to know. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #12 — But First, Coffee. Living in intentional community for a summer or year, you learn that people see the world differently than you do. That people have different strengths, different talents. But that everyone is necessary. Here’s intern Justice performing a poem he wrote about community.

JUSTICE: The difference that you are making in the lives of others is a slow and steady and consistent one. But it is there. It just may look a bit more like the process of making coffee, a timely and unrushed, rhythmically familiar, releasing of itself for another, the simple yet profound nature of offering all of itself for the convenience of a mug to be consumed. And whether or not immediately noticed, so much more than a mere caffeine supplement. You have lessons to teach and stillness to offer. You are just the right amount of bitter authenticity and sweet optimism. You are both strong and necessary, more than you know.

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #13 — The Long Game. Intern Darrell was serving at Louisville Rescue Mission, where he met John. And John was a resident at the mission. And often, when it comes to stories of change, we expect the grand and the miraculous. But God doesn’t always work that way. Here’s Darrell.

DARRELL: John was a very gruff character. His body language just said ‘stay away.’ He would just kind of sit down, keep to himself, and eventually I would sit next to him. And then I would just kind of mimic what John did. He would lean back and forth, and I would lean back and forth. Just a simple thing of copying him was just my way of saying ‘Hey, I get it. We don’t really want to be here right now.’ Because honestly, when I was doing the program, there were days that I just didn’t want to be here. And honestly, when there were days when he was in his program, he didn’t want to be there, y’know? And eventually, leaning back and forth turned into ‘How’s it going?’ And then that became ‘What’s your favorite food? Would you like to go out for, y’know, dinner and hang out?’ And over time, a relationship built there. And, um, by the time my tenure with Love Thy Neighborhood ended, he and I were going out regularly for chess games and there would be days I would forget and he would be the one at my door with chess set in hand knocking. So the gruff character that no one really wanted anything to do with or neither did he — he wanted nothing to do with anybody else — became that person who eventually was the one who initiated having time, just to be a friend. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Story #14 — The Ripple Effect. LTN doesn’t just impact people during their time of service, but after as well. Jordan served with us 13 years ago when he was in his early 20’s. But now, even all these years later, he says living the LTN life, that experience still shapes him today. 

JORDAN: One of the things that not only we wanted to do, but we were encouraged to do is to invite residents over to share a meal. And it’s wonderful, it’s beautiful, like people open up in a way that they just don’t otherwise. Many years later, that’s something that I continue to enjoy with my neighbors. Um, just sharing a meal together, inviting them over, sit down for dinner, let’s just catch up and share life together.

JANELLE DAWKINS: Story #15 — Doxology. Every other Friday, all the interns from all over the city gather together. And just like the early church in Acts chapter two, we share a meal, we sing songs, and we listen to other Christian leaders. And before we leave, we all come together and we sing the Doxology. 

AUDIO CLIP: Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so, year after year, young adults show up in Louisville, Kentucky. And they keep showing up. And God keeps transforming them and our city. 


JESSE EUBANKS: To apply to serve with Love Thy Neighborhood or to check out past episodes of this podcast, visit


JESSE EUBANKS: Special thanks to all of our interns, past and present. We appreciate the service and the time that you invest here in our city. This program could not exist without you. So thank you especially to those that shared their stories with us today. 

JANELLE DAWKINS: Our senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks.

JESSE EUBANKS: Our co-host today is Janelle Dawkins. Janelle also did all the reporting for today’s episode, as well as some additional editing. You should also know that Janelle has been with us since last September, and her fingerprints have been all over these last episodes that we have been doing. And so it’s been wonderful hosting with you on this episode.

JANELLE DAWKINS: Thanks Jesse! And our producer, technical director, editor, and fancy cat blanket collector is Rachel Szabo.

JESSE EUBANKS: Music for today’s episode comes from Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, and Emma Grace. Theme music and commercial music by Murphy DX.

JANELLE DAWKINS: Apply for your social justice internship supported by Christian community by visiting Serve for a summer or a year. Grow in your faith and life skills.

JESSE EUBANKS: Which of these was a neighbor to the man in need? The one who showed mercy. Jesus tells us, ‘Go, and do likewise.’ 


This podcast is only made possible by generous donors like you!


This episode was produced and mixed by Rachel Szabo. Reporting and additional editing by Janelle Dawkins. This episode was written by Rachel Szabo with Janelle Dawkins and Jesse Eubanks.

Senior Production by Jesse Eubanks.

Hosted by Jesse Eubanks and Janelle Dawkins.

Soundtrack music from Murphy DX, Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear, Ema Grace and Blue Dot Sessions.

Thank you to our interns – both past and present!