Justice is In Reach for All
By Derick Dailey and Ericka Elion
Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”
Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”
Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery.
Nehemiah 5 tells the story of Jewish farmers faced with a crisis—one of social, economic, and political proportions. These farmers were forced to deal with widespread famine due to crop scarcity and greed on behalf of the ruler. People lacked enough food to eat, the government imposed excessive taxes on the poorest, and, consequently, the poor were forced into a system of debt as they borrowed money from those in power to satisfy the government’s demand.
Today, our society is faced with a similar crisis; one of social, economic, and political weight, but also one that has moral implications. Today, there is a persistent poverty of consciousness and spiritual conviction, driven by the overwhelming realities of our time: low wages or no wages, setbacks and cut backs, discrimination, hatred, and political gridlock. Our children are subjected to slavery, both literal and figurative. They are oppressed, suppressed, and held bondage by poverty, and then stigmatized when they seek help by attempting to access the social safety net.
Ask yourself, is God pleased with such atrocity?
Much like Nehemiah’s stories, people across the world have stories of personal testimony that serve as tools of transformation.
This year, the focus of Bread for the World's Offering of Letters is food-aid reform. Included in the Offering on Letters kit is the powerful story of Catarina, a woman whose young children have been able to thrive because of U.S. food aid. Bread for the World members Chang Park has shared his story of receiving U.S. food aid as a child growing up in Korea. These stories combine to form a collective body of spiritual tools which people of faith can lean on and learn from.
As we fight to reform food aid in the coming months, we long to hear your stories of triumph and trial, of overcoming and overreaching, stories of challenge and championing. Share your story with us in the comments, and with your member of Congress by writing a personal letter. Tell your senators and representative why we must work to help people in times of crisis and ensure that all are fed. Or, host an Offering of Letters workshop, and engage your congregation or campus in this response to hunger and suffering in the world.
Doing justice is about prophetic vision anchored in love for every neighbor, and compassion and mercy to the oppressor and the oppressed. Advocacy allows justice to be within reach for everyone. You can do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God and share your voice and story to help usher in God’s holy work of ending hunger.
Derick Dailey is a graduate student at Yale University, and a Bread for the World member. Ericka Elion is the ECC-Covenant World Relief fellow at Bread for the World and a MDiv/MNA student at North Park Theological Seminary.
To learn more about Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters, "Reforming U.S. Food Aid," visit www.bread.org/ol, and watch the recording of our recent Google Hangout on food-aid reform.
Photos: 1) A farmer in Guatemala (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World); 2) Farmer Jane Sebbi tending her land in Uganda (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World); and 3) A young girl eating breakfast (Margaret Nea).
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