A God of Liberation
Listen: HIV/AIDS in Uganda and St. Francis Health Care Services
God calls us to act
By Rev. Gary Cook
The book of Exodus carries one of the most powerful stories of God’s lifesaving compassion. Throughout its early chapters, we read repeatedly of God’s distress at the injustice inflicted upon the Israelites: “I have observed the misery of my people …” God tells Moses. “Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them …” (Exodus 3:7-8).
Who does God call into service? Moses. “I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt,” God says. But—as we would likely do—Moses protests, first asking God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). When God persists, Moses pleads, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent … I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).
Despite Moses’ misgivings and the Pharaoh’s hard heart, the Israelites are ultimately delivered from their suffering—not in one day, but delivered nonetheless. It’s an act that illustrates God’s saving power and compassion for those who are vulnerable.
The Exodus story also illustrates two other important themes. First, God calls God’s people to act on behalf of suffering people. Second, we are to listen to God’s call. In spite of his fears and perceived limitations, Moses is a model for us—he listened to God’s voice and faithfully used his own to advocate for others. And he repeatedly brought his case before the most powerful leader in Egypt.
It is important for us to hear God’s call to liberate people from hunger and poverty, and to act. Many of us volunteer individually at food banks, charities, and church-based food pantries. That is critical work. But it is also essential for us to work collectively, to support strong and effective U.S. government programs that help hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world. Our government’s decisions and policies have a big impact on poor people around the world. People of faith must influence how the U.S. government uses its considerable resources and power.
Bread’s National Gathering 2011, coming up June 11-14, is an important opportunity for Bread’s partners, members, and activists to come together and do this. Participants will meet in Washington, DC, to worship together, network, learn about hunger-related topics, and talk with their members of Congress about U.S. policies that more effectively reduce poverty.
I hope you’ll come and hear the stories of anti-hunger leaders and activists around the country, as well as leaders in developing countries, about progress in the movement to free people from hunger.
God calls us to speak. By working together, we can change the politics of hunger.
Gary Cook is director of church relations for Bread for the World. For more information and to register for National Gathering 2011, visit www.bread.org/go/gather.