Archive for social justice
A friend paid it forward on my behalf. Thank you Tim! Because of his passion about seeing this injustice addressed, it became more important to me. For that reason, I wanted to share with you WaterForward.
Throughout the story, my eyes often filled with tears. The purity of heart and faith in God were deeply compelling. God’s faithfulness to bless those who follow Him as well as His chosen was evident. Then, as the story unfolded, tear-filled eyes were not enough to deal with the cathartic outcome. Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place tells of God’s faithfulness, love and forgiveness.
My reading of the classic–The Hiding Place–is thanks to my wife’s recommendation as she and one of my daughter’s had just read the book. This story illustrating the reign of God bring every evidence to bear with accounts of justice, reconciliation, beauty and the miraculous. As an added bonus in the book, I think there are some phenomenal church-planting truths and numerous missional living lessons for us to discover.
In closing Corrie shares, “And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
I wholly recommend the book. Here I will also include the original movie and a variation that came out this year. While I haven’t seen the second, I am anxious to view it soon even though some reviews are critical of the acting.
In the CNN Belief Blog there was a recent article entitled, Preachers confront ‘last taboo’: Condemning amid Great Recession by John Blake. The piece in itself was interesting, but for me the content paled in comparison to some of the comments directed at clergy and religion.
There is so much to declare that the U.S. is not a post-Christian society with the prevalence of churches across the land today even though most of those are in decline. Yet, there is a wave of people speaking against the church and those that lead her. As these conversations may not be the norm for Christian circles, I find it helpful to listen to the voices and learn what we can. So, may we consider this food for thought…
“And here I thought the last taboo for preachers was rational thought.” -sleepytime
“Religion is poison.” -pockets
“These guys preaching against greed would be like Bill Clinton lecturing people on adultery.” -j mann
“False prophets and charlatans. The whole lot of them.” -Mighty7
“Sounds like most of these preacher dudes are better Republicans than they are Christians.” -Dr. Rang
“There are Christians holding on tight to their nest eggs while people in the next pew are living paycheck to paycheck. God takes back seat to financial realities. The clergy doesn’t want to mess with their own meal tickets.” -Meal Ticket
Some years ago I traveled a number of states routinely for work reasons. During these travels, one of the darkest cities I visited was Bryan, TX. What I saw of Bryan was a bunch of businesses that had been shuttered and the few that remained were primarily fast-food chains and seedy looking motels. After noticing such a stark contrast in the town I did a bit of investigative driving to see what else I might find on the main streets there. This led me to a high school that had a full-time police presence (this stood in stark contrast with many other Texas schools that may have a police presence for directing traffic at the beginning and end of the day. Close to the school was a large Planned Parenthood center and an abortion clinic.
I don’t presume to know the history of Bryan and whether a spiritual darkness led to leaving visible signs of distress in the city or if the distress in the community led toward spiritual darkness. Regardless, the signs of dysfunction were jarring for me.
A couple of weeks ago I met Karen Hall, the president of CTOMA (Central Texas Orphan Mission Alliance), a faith-based charity which exists to provide medical care for orphans, humanitarian aid, and other assistance for children in other countries and also in the United States. Recently CTOMA purchased part of the space adjoining Planned Parenthood’s facility where they will open the CTOMA charity offices (upstairs in private office space) and provide a community health, screening clinic in this location (downstairs). This will enable them to offer a real choice for women that are seriously considering having an abortion. Their offices are scheduled to open in January 2011. Thankfully, all building costs have already been covered!
Now CTOMA is in need of a 3D ultrasound to make this work possible, and funding to employ an RN sonographer to keep the free clinic open at least 5 days a week. They are committed to finding volunteer sonographers for the other day (possibly Saturdays) when Planned Parenthood decides to offer their services on weekends.
“So we really wish to do the best job possible, providing many services for the women and men. There should be no reason they would consider abortion when they can be helped by Christians whose only agenda is to be of help to them and their child. If you can possibly assist us in raising these funds, it will have an eternal impact and change many lives for Christ. Abortion clinics have closed due to the presence of free ultrasounds next door. The statistics show that 90% of women will not abort when shown an ultrasound of their baby.”
Please help! Go to CTOMA’s site and help make a difference to impact the lives of many and help advance a process of transformation in Bryan.
This past weekend I happened to catch part of 60 minutes. The piece I saw was heavy and difficult. It was the story about a city and a few lives. Scott Pelley relays the story of the 99ers. A story about one city and a few lives. A story that is representative of many cities and many people throughout the US. This story is and will continue to be with us for some time. Church leaders must be aware of what is happening…
There are additional 60 Minutes stories on those facing the completion of their 99 weeks of benefits. These other stories give up close looks at a struggling family and the difficult circumstances with which the mayor of San Jose, CA wrestles.
Along this theme are four recent posts sharing about the challenges we are facing and some recommended responses for the church.
Pure religion is practical, straightforward and non-negotiable–care for orphans and widows. James records these instructions as the clear outcome of what it looks like for believers to combine faith and action. Anything less than practically meeting the needs of the needy is simply an exercise in worthless religion. Not taking action is a sure way to fool ourselves into thinking our religion has meaning and purpose. But….
But we are to make a difference. We are not to be served, but to serve. We are to give our lives as a living sacrifice. We are to feed those that are hungry and clothe those that are naked. We are to care for orphans and widows.
Toward this end, I am happy to introduce and shamelessly promote theworldwouldnotice.com. These guys are encouraging the church to make a difference in the lives of orphans–all of the orphans in the state of Florida and beyond. Their challenge is this: For every one church, let there be 1 less child that needs a home.
Advocating that we impact the world together, the site founders promote the idea for every church to have multiple families that rally around one adopting family to be their support network and community to love and embrace a new member of the family. As a result, the church living in obedience will impact so many as they experience and live out the love of Christ. And one more thing…if done on a large scale, the world would notice that something unique and good is happening among these people seeking to obey their God.
From time to time I post original writings of guests from around the world. In this post, a lover of Jesus, poverty advocate and devoted believer in social justice for the world shares some of her experience in identifying with the impoverished in America.
How can we truly be Jesus’ hands and feet to the poor? What does it look like to truly serve the marginalized, oppressed and lost? Like many of you, I want to make a difference in this world so I went searching for a job with meaning after graduation. I enrolled in a volunteer corps program for one year where I worked at a local non-profit. In my particular program, I received a small stipend that was the equivalent to what a single person in poverty would make. This was the challenge: could I live like a person in poverty lived? Could I survive on $26.00 a day?
The answer is no. If it weren’t for my gracious parents, savings and a lot of free church meals, I wouldn’t have made it. Yet I learned an incredible amount in that year and I began to see a glimpse of what poverty truly looks like from the inside out. I didn’t just read about it, I lived it.
Part of my experience included applying for food stamps. I wanted to better understand the system and personally go through the process, not to mention I was hungry. I never imagined that it would be so difficult. It took a total of four months to receive my benefits.
My breaking point came when I visited the food stamp office for the fourth time. I asked the clerk why I had not received my EBT card in the mail and she informed me that I had been denied. At that moment, I started crying and yelled at her, “You’re telling me that even though I make less than $800 a month, I can’t get on food stamps!?”
It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it was a life changing one. I was frustrated that I would have to reapply for the second time. But even more so, I was heartbroken for my brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends who would never be able to get on food stamps even though they desperately needed them. I watched a system that was designed to help the poor, fail them.
I don’t claim to understand what it truly feels like to be in poverty nor do I claim to understand the agony of going to bed hungry, but from this experience I have come to better understand the challenges the poor face on a daily basis. More importantly, it got me thinking about how I could be an advocate on their behalf as a believer in Christ and a proponent of social justice.
Food security and hunger are growing concerns across the United States. It is no surprise that only 65% of Alabamians who are eligible for food stamps receive them according to the USDA. Additionally, food stamps only provide $3 per person per day for a family of four. That’s simply not enough.
We then must ask ourselves: What is the responsibility of the Church? What role do we have to play? It is time to rethink how we do ministry and find more effective ways to defend the weak and fatherless and uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed (Psalm 82:3.)