The Disenfranchised (From Article 7 of Here We Stand)

What Is the Issue? Throughout the history of the United States it has been a nation of immigrants; people coming to get a fresh start. Sometimes people came to flee tyranny, oppression, and religious persecution; sometimes to escape war, famine, and disease to find economic and educational opportunities; sometimes people came unwillingly as slaves or indentured servants. This has been the American story since the beginning and is a part of this nation’s strength and character. But many who have come have found oppression, discrimination, neglect and abandonment. Despite decades of civil rights efforts, deep racism persists. In these economically turbulent times, jobs have been lost and families have become impoverished and homeless. Persons, particularly women and children, are pursued by predators. Despite the glory that is America, many within its borders are disenfranchised; often without advocates and defenders. What Does Scripture Say? “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 10:18-20). “The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked” (Psalm 146:9).“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:34-40). “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:17-20). How Do We Understand This? It is the responsibility of the Church to work for justice, basic human rights, fairness in employment, respect for all people, and equal access to opportunity. It is every Christian’s responsibility to provide assistance to the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, the abused and abandoned—wherever and whenever they are found and whoever they may be. How Can We Respond (Minister)? Each local church has a distinct mission field. In order to carry out our responsibility we should:

•Be knowledgeable of the economic conditions and needs of our communities.

•Be attentive to the conduct of our public officials, educators and law enforcement.

•Advocate and support laws that are just and fair and consistent with our values from Christ.

•Come to the aid of those who have fallen victim to economic conditions, natural disasters, the sin-generated prejudices of their fellow citizenry, and the injustices of those in power.

•Work for civil public dialogue on important issues.

•Advance the work of racial reconciliation.

•Promote the fair treatment of aliens and strangers in our midst.

•Never forget the personal touch of the Church and its people to offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name (Matthew 10:42