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“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” – Jeremiah 29:7 

The question of where we were born often influences our identity and sense of belonging. For those of us who weren’t born in this great state of Tennessee, the experience of being asked, “Were you born here?” might resonate. But here’s the truth: You don’t have to be a NATIVE to be a LOCAL, to be ONE OF US. 

Tennessee, with its proud natives, often boasts about their birthright with bumper stickers that read “Tennessee NATIVE.” While I may never have the privilege of slapping such a sticker on my car, it doesn’t diminish my commitment and love for this community. The reality is that being a LOCAL isn’t about where you were born; it’s about being known, committed, and contributing to the well-being of the community. 

As I look around this diverse and vibrant community, I see individuals who, like me, weren’t born here but have found a home here. It’s a testament to the welcoming spirit and warmth of this place, where being a LOCAL means more than where you started—it’s about where you’ve chosen to belong. 

In Jeremiah 29:7, God instructs us to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile.” This principle transcends the concept of being a native or not. It calls us to be actively involved in the betterment of our community, regardless of our birthplace. As locals, we play a vital role in contributing to the flourishing of the place we now call home. 

It is our shared commitment to seeking the welfare of this city that stands as our unifying force, bridging the gap between natives and newcomers, creating the type of unity that reflects the beauty of our diverse community.

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bible verse

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

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