In the fall of 2007, not long after I started to work with New York Faith & Justice, I learned of an in-depth Bible study on Isaiah 61, which revolutionized my approach to the ministry of ending poverty. I learned that this passage declares the poor "the oaks of righteousness," and says "that THEY will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated." Instead of the poor just being passive recipients of the gospel, the poor are called to rebuild and restore their communities!
If you are a person of privilege, instead of working for the poor you are called to work alongside the poor. And if, like me, you come from the ranks of the poor, you are called to rebuild and restore your community.
I see this at work in the words and actions of Marilyn Marshall and Joyce Gill-Campbell of Domestic Workers United, whom I met because they are nominated for the Poverty Initiative's Poverty Scholars Program:
"I want to be in tune with my maker."
"I pray for the organization to get the (Domestic Workers) Bill of Rights passed."
"Without God we can't do anything."
"I put fliers in the churches, I speak to the pastors."