Poverty is such a complex situation. It is complex because the experience involves men, women, and children who experience a variety of variables resulting in a diversity of outcomes.
I have been recently working through Dr. Howard Thurman's seminal work, Jesus and the Disinherited. In Dr. Thurman's text, I was struck by his summation the Church moved from being a place which advocated for the poor and oppressed. The Church moved to a position of being a voice for the powerful-individuals and institutions-which took advantage of the poor and oppressed.
The faith which is so precious to me had been co-opted. A faith born in slavery and became fully realized in a poor human being named Jesus, stumbles because she pursues power with greater vigor than the poor.
I am thankful even in the midst of shaken faith God sends the poor to remind me he is paying attention. God uses the daily experiences of those who have hard lives. Yes his Word is present but there are moments when the still voice of God speaks in the trembling frustration of a homeless man, an overwhelmed single mother, or autistic child.
I have heard God speak as well through my friends who do not believe as I believe and yet these men and women believe there is a God who is there. I know in whom I believe and why I believe what has been written. I am not arrogant enough to say I know all about who God is in my life. (I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the Trinity and loving my enemy like Jesus asks of me!) But I am humble enough to know I can learn about love, joy, peace, long-suffering, and goodness from my friends of different faiths. In the end, all things will be used to wipe away every vestige which has casts shadows and invoked fearful tears.
So what does all this mean?
I am working to create an environment of mutual support and activity between persons of various faith perspectives who will gather to discuss and stimulate change as it relates to poverty. I want to encourage these men and women to explicitly use the faiths precious to them and see how these faiths can be used to address poverty in a holistic manner.
What will this Interfaith group value?
Doctrinal Humility: People willing to honor their doctrinal positions with the outcome to encourage and inspire others to address poverty in Conway and Faulkner County.
Religious Commitment: Persons who will maintain fidelity to their individual faith traditions while learning from other traditions.
Interconnectedness: Persons willing to develop and sustain relationships between participants translating into visible activities .
Empathetic Life: Through dialogue and actions, persons consider the lived experience of the poor while maintaining individual unique identities.
If you would like to participate in a constructive manner, connect with me.