The Common Good

A Message of Gratitude

Sojomail - January 6, 2011


"Absent data that show liens make a meaningful contribution to revenue collection and especially in this economy, I find it unacceptable that the IRS continues to torment financially struggling taxpayers in this way."

- Nina E. Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent ombudsman within the IRS, in an annual report to Congress critical of the agency filing tax files liens against people who have no money and no assets. (Source: Washington Post)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

A Message of Gratitude

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On New Year's Day I sat and reflected on the past year. The feeling that rushed through me was gratitude -- of course, for Joy and my boys, Luke and Jack, who are the loves of my life and a constant source of delight, fun, and happiness I never knew before; for the wonderful team at Sojourners that I am blessed to work with; for the faithful love, prayers, and support from so many Sojourners friends and donors; and ultimately gratitude to God, who gave us this mission many years ago and continues to sustain us. Amazing grace all around.

In many ways, it was a difficult year. Our commitment to social justice and living out Christ's call for us to be his hands and feet in this world came under attack like never before. But when television and radio shows and the resources of an entire cable network were turned against us and all "social justice Christians," it only expanded the number of those who understood the importance of a commitment to the biblical vision of social justice.

In the midst of some of the worst attacks, one of my staff members told me he received a call from his parents. They told him that while they don't agree with every policy stance Sojourners takes, they believe that we do our best every day to live out the gospel of Jesus in a broken world, and if the attacks are that bad, we must be doing something right. So they became supporters. This December, the number of donors who gave to our work increased two-and-a-half times over. More than 4,500 people donated to Sojourners in the month of December alone. For all that, I am filled with gratitude.

Every time a new supporter joins our work it is a reminder that while the fight for biblical justice might sometimes be lonely, we are never alone. This is more important now than ever before. Most likely, the attacks from the Far Right that intensified this year are likely to continue and even grow in volume and vehemence. But Sojourners has been attacked before. Our commitment to not only helping the poor, but also asking why they are poor, has been vilified in the past. I remember what Brazilian Archbishop Dom Helder Camara once said: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

Saying that we should be Christians first and Americans after has always made some people mad. We are not "America-first" Christians, but "Christ-first" Christians, and there is a difference. Reaching out and building bridges with those who are different, foreigners, strangers, or "the other" to create peace and reconciliation has been demonized time and again. But we have always said and done those things and always will. Sometimes the attacks hurt -- especially when they are false accusations -- but God has always been faithful, and so has our extended community of Sojourners.

That is why this year we are renewing our focus on providing resources that teach us how to understand our identity as Christians, follow Christ into a world desperate for justice and peace, and think critically about the issues we face as a church and a nation. We want to make sure you have the biblical knowledge and insights you need to speak and act on God's heart for the poor, needy, and marginalized in your church, neighborhood, and world. We want to make sure you have the opportunities for action that could make a difference.

I am filled with gratitude that so many of you have committed just a few dollars a day, or much more, to this work -- even in tough economic times. This is important because one of the attacks that was made up last year was that we get most of our funding from secular atheists! Nope, it's mostly a bunch of Christians -- lots of them. The support that we are blessed by is a testament to how important this work is to so many of you who made the decision to start giving this year, or to keep giving even in challenging times.

Of course, there is so much more work to do. The attacks will keep coming, but the movement will keep growing. We will continue to grow the gospel movement of love and justice, particularly by inviting a new generation of activists to join. I pray that you will continue to be a part of this movement, by reaching out to those around you with the help of the resources and inspiration we try to provide.

Giving transforms us. It changes the way we see the world. And when the way we see the world changes, changing the world isn't far behind.

Thank you, thank you, for your support in tough times, which may get even tougher. But I know there are many people I can trust to support the vision and mission God has given to us. Thanks be to God!

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Building a Movement

2010: A Look Back

Last fall we urged you to contact Congress on two important issues: the DREAM Act for undocumented students, and the nuclear START Treaty. Thankfully, the Senate ratified START -- thanks, in part, to your advocacy. Unfortunately, the DREAM Act was not passed by the Senate, despite passage in the House and strong grassroots efforts. The 112th Congress convened this week and with your ongoing support we will prepare for new opportunities to be a voice for justice in Washington.

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