These days are more than difficult with continued multiple mass shootings. We can hardly even take a breath before we hear, read, experience another senseless shooting in a public setting. While we are not in the midst of the tragedies, almost every time we have family or friends who are among the victims, or are serving as first responders, or live in the community and wrestling with fear and deep grief.
Also, our hearts continue to be broken when we see and read about refugees and immigrants at the border and the deplorable conditions in which they are living, especially the children. Just this week in Mississippi, parents were detained and forced to leave their children behind.
On both issues, even from a distance, we are struck with deep grief and anger, and our first response is prayer. I have seen some beautiful prayers on social media. These prayers are true expressions of many emotions and implore God to hear and respond. But, we need to do more. We need to pray and also act.
Many of us are asking what can we DO in addition to our deep and abiding conversations with God. There are lots of things we can do, some of which many of us are already doing. Let me add some suggestions from two faith leaders, The Rev. Cameron Trimble, Founder & CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal and author of Piloting Churches, and The Rev. Mary Heath, Minister at Edmond Trinity Christian Church and the chair of the new Commission on Refugee & Immigration Ministries in Oklahoma. Our denomination’s Refugee and Immigration Ministries work of advocacy and education is also providing ways to help.
Rev. Cameron Trimble — In one of her weekly blogs, Rev. Trimble implores us to join the growing movement of activists and average citizens who are speaking out against bigotry, hatred, intolerance and xenophobia. To offer our support, we can do three things:
- Host conversations with our friends and neighbors about the values that define being an American. She offers several groups who have helpful resources: The Weavers Movement, Civic Dinners, The Turquoise Table, Living Room Conversations. I invite you to connect to these websites to learn and maybe to implement one of these ideas. I already know of one congregation in Oklahoma who will be starting table conversations as worship.
- Connect with a Voter Registration organization in your area and help mobilize a ground game for getting people to the polls. I think church members could easily organize a team to visit those who are home bound to ensure their voice could be heard.
- Financially support activist organizations doing the critical work on the ground such as: The Poor People’s Campaign, New Sanctuary Movement, Faith in Public Life, Activist Theology Project.
Rev. Mary Heath — As you will see in the Regional Roundup article, Oklahoma Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Ministries Invites You to Join the Mission, The Rev. Mary Heath has a passion for helping us get organized to DO something to love and care for the refugee and immigrant children at the border of Texas. I am grateful for her leadership and hope you will read her article that calls us to urgent action.
Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries – The Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea serves as the Director of this office, a part of Disciples Home Missions, and it also includes Tana Liu-Beers, an immigration attorney who works as a resource to our congregations, regions, and members. The Oklahoma Region has joined other regions to support the costs of this urgent work. This link to RIM WRAP 08/14/2019 will take you to five additional ways Disciples in Oklahoma can help refugee and immigrant families in Mississippi.
I know you are praying. I know you are writing your legislator. Maybe you are protesting. These suggestions above are some additional resources to keep us moving toward healing and wholeness in this broken and fragmented world. I am grateful for your deep and abiding faith, for your witness to the love of Jesus Christ, for your prayers, and for picking up a few pieces of action that reveal your willingness and generosity to serve in the name of Jesus.
Keeping the faith,