Calling Our Representatives Is an Act of Faith | Sojourners

Calling Our Representatives Is an Act of Faith

Activists with the grassroots organization CODEPINK visit the office of Majority Leader of the United States Senate Charles Schumer (D-NY) in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 2024, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Credit: Bryan Olin Dozier via Reuters Connect.

Do you ever wonder if calling your representatives makes a difference? Do you ever wonder if prayer yields fruit? Considering all the injustice in the world, I think those are fair questions to ponder.

Since last October, I’ve spent many nights crouched over the bed with my phone on loudspeaker. I’ve been calling my representatives for the passing of H.R. 786, a congressional resolution that urges “an immediate deescalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine.” This has been my daily practice.

I wait for the voicemail’s beep, clear my throat, and read the cease-fire call script through my 5 Calls app. The act of calling my representatives feels liturgical with its methodical repetition, its language filled with conviction, and its capacity to imagine a future where Palestine is free and violence is not the rule of the land. It is prayerful in its hopefulness, and as a Christian, it has taught me to rely more on the sovereignty of Jesus over injustice.

Born in the Philippines, I was raised in a tradition where the congregation did not end prayer in what we called “the silence of God.” Instead, we kept praying until we felt God meet us in our intercessions. We knew that God listened to our cries. We did not pray into the void. We prayed to the God of the universe who had power over all things. We prayed unceasingly in my church at the foot of the mountains in Antipolo just outside of Metro Manila. We believed that God’s deliverance was at hand and we believed that because we were raising our voices together. God was not silent, God was with us.

Before I understood anything about theology, group prayer taught me that using our voices collectively can produce a spirit of longevity. When we use our voices together, we are reminded that we are not alone in our struggles.

It is easy to feel isolated and powerless when watching a genocide via our phones and TV screens. This is exacerbated by the reality that I am an immigrant who cannot vote but pays taxes to the U.S. — which sends $3.3 billion in military equipment and services to Israel annually. Despite my not being able to vote, I still believe I have a responsibility to participate in the U.S. political system. So, calling my representatives is not just a civic duty, but also an act of faith. It is similar to prayer because it requires an unwavering trust that we are heard when we call and that the one who is listening to us on the other end of the line can do something beyond our individual capabilities.

My voice, albeit singular and small, is not alone. Instead, I am joined by many others who have also been raising their voices to call for justice and liberation for Palestinians. Calling our representatives reminds us to put our hope in the power of our collective voice and the belief that small steps of faith can change things. To paraphrase the words of Mother Teresa, we are called to do little things with great love.

We do not always know if doing the little things makes a difference, and yet we still do them with pure devotion, believing that God will heed our prayers for justice and peace even when politicians do not. We trust that God sees our hearts languishing in lament and that God has the final rule and authority over all creation, including the politicians who fail to pursue justice. In calling our representatives, we actively fight against injustice and surrender to God’s sovereignty.

Our fight against imperial domination doesn’t always need to be loud and grandiose. We do not need to shout from the rooftops for the applause of others, although that mode of resistance is necessary at times. When calling representatives, it can be monastic in its seclusion and quietude. When I call, I try to follow the example that Jesus offered to his disciples in Matthew 6 when he told them how to pray. It often feels mundane and insignificant as I go to my room, shut the door, and pick up the phone to pray and demand an end to the genocide.

But even in feeling that these efforts are mundane and insignificant, I am fueled by a sense of urgency. The blood cries out from the ground to testify against the U.S. and Israel’s violence against Palestine. I believe that it is our duty as people called by Christ to be peacemakers, to join in on the cry and bear witness to the bloodshed. My faith gives me the courage to be politically engaged, to mobilize the communities I am a part of, and to be faithful in doing this until the genocide of Palestinians ends.

My faith has also given me the capacity to mourn the Palestinian blood on my country’s hands. The Philippines is complicit in the violence against Palestinians, as its military was trained by the Israel Defense Forces and is one of the largest importers of Israeli weapons. Although my country is in many ways a victim of the U.S. war machine, it is also a beneficiary of its violence.

So, whenever I call my representatives, I also reflect on the interconnected struggle of Filipinos and Palestinians against American imperialism. Although we are siloed by our geopolitical realities, our longing for freedom is the same. My heart turns to hope whenever I remember the bravery and strength of Palestinians, and their willingness to care for one another amidst such deep loss and pain. This collective struggle is what pushes me to continue calling even when it feels like the silence at the end of the line is the turning away of heaven.

We are not alone. While reflecting on the importance of our voices coming together, I remembered my experience at a Chicago teach-in about the Palestinian struggle. During the art portion of the solidarity meeting, I carved one linocut block for a communal tapestry that said “From Palestine to the Philippines, Stop the US War Machine.” My friend beside me carved a water buffalo while others carved sampaguitas — the national flower of the Philippines — and waves. People who have done printmaking before were asked to work on the letters and I was assigned to do the “O.” I spent a lot of time meticulously pushing my linoleum cutter to make my patch look beautiful. It felt insignificant. No one was going to take a long, hard look at the letter I made or compliment the artistry behind it. And yet this, along with all of the other linocut blocks fashioned by the many hands, was a part of the tapestry calling for an end to violence.

I imagine our calls to representatives being like individual prayers that come together to form a communal tapestry demanding an end to injustice.

“The people of Gaza are still asking us to pray, and they are still praying,” says Rev. Munther Isaac, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem. Just as liturgical prayer shapes us to experience God’s power in our lives, the liturgy of phoning our representatives shapes us to see God’s power in the world through the liberation of his people. Let us pray alongside our siblings in Gaza and let us do it unceasingly. All creation groans for redemption, and I believe that a part of that longing includes the flourishing of Palestinians in their native land. May our voices be unwavering as we bellow for a free Palestine, as we wait on our phones for an answer to our demands, and as we long for the Lord to grant deliverance.

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