“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men (and women) willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”
As a proclaimer of the gospel, an apostle and disciple of Jesus Christ, called by the church and sent to proclaim the good news, I cannot keep from speaking about what I have seen and heard. I have heard the cries of single moms with no food for their children. I have heard the cries of children whose father is incarcerated. I have heard the cries of homeless men and women, evicted families, addicted young adults, and formerly incarcerated citizens struggling to survive outside of prison. I have seen the joy of those who are reunited with loved ones. I have seen the joy of families gathered at the table to eat a meal together. I have seen the joy of people whose housing is restored, who have received employment, and who have stayed clean and sober by the grace of God.
Advocacy, for me, begins with hope in God’s merciful justice. I believe people can heal, people can be changed, people are redeemable. I believe this because God raises the dead, multiplies loaves and fishes, forgives sinners, and confronts demons. We speak a vision for God’s future. We speak with and for the most vulnerable members of God’s family, for those who suffer at the bottom of the human pyramid. We speak to encourage and empower those who suffer to stand up and be seen and heard. We speak against the powers of evil and injustice that threaten to destroy God’s beloved children. We speak as a public witness for love and justice for all of God’s children. I am passionate about God’s Word and the promise of an end to suffering, hunger, and death. If we are not speaking, not fighting, not loving or serving, we are not following Jesus. A silent church is complicit in the injustice that threatens us. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I have hope that our work as a body is necessary and good. I have hope that advocacy makes a difference. I have hope that agitation and challenge of the status quo is the way in which God’s kingdom comes among us and for us. I am called to use my voice to share good news and denounce injustice. The faith community, rooted in God’s Word, is especially called to speak. Prayer, proclamation, and advocacy are all part of the witness to which we are called as bearers of the gospel.