Yesterday morning, Tony Hall, David Beckmann, Ritu Sharma, and I began a water fast because of what I call "selectively cruel" budget cuts aimed at our most important poverty-fighting programs. The room at the National Press Club was full, and we all felt great support from the many hunger, poverty, and faith-inspired activists gathered there. In response to reporter's questions, we kept saying this is not about us, but about calling many others to "fast, pray, and act" to form a "circle of protection" around the most vital programs that support and sustain poor people -- in many cases, these programs are literally keeping them alive. There have already been some good stories and interviews in the media on the fast. Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide, spoke from personal knowledge of the lives of poor women around the world and put it clearly: "Cuts can kill."
So far almost 5,000 people have joined our fast -- with more than 3,000 participants from our Sojourners extended community. And more are signing up every day to fast in their own ways. Many are skipping Monday lunch and using the time to contact their members of Congress about these devastating budget cuts being proposed. I would urge each of you to consider joining us in whatever ways are best for you and add your commitment and voice to the growing circle of protection.
The first week of a fast like this is always the hardest. Your body constantly protests as you deny it food. At first glance, a fast always looks as though it is about denial and the things you give up. As the days go on, a fast can become about affirmation and the things that you gain. The absence of food can actually focus you and give you more time to pray. It is not so much about giving up meals, as it is affirming that our strength and hope comes first from God. And that's the power of a fast.
Thank you for all the support we've been receiving.
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.