EDITORS NOTE: If you would like to be involved in the case for Bertina’s home, Jeremy asks for prayer. He writes, “But true prayer does not stop at a longing of the heart expressed to God, it moves into the world with action for change.” If you would like to explore additional ways to become involved, specifically in the case for Bertina’s home, visit Jeremy’s blog at glassdimly.com.
"Oh Lord, save your servant who trusts in you." - Psalm 86
A prayer lifts up from the city, like the smoke of incense. A single prayer, in the myriad of others, a strand of smoke amidst a great burning.
"Oh Lord, why do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" - Psalm 10
But God is listening. God hears the prayers of God's people.
The question is, are we listening? For God, who hears the prayers of God's people, is calling us to listen as well. God's justice is a collective project.
But when we listen, we hear stories of oppression, corruption, and injustice, in the face of honesty and hard work. But listening is not enough. When we listen, God calls us from the quiet of prayer to be a healing presence in the world.
"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." - Proverbs 31:27
Bertina Jones is an accountant from Bowie, Maryland. In 2008 she lost her job of 17 years and got behind on her mortgage, a house she had owned for 11 years. After several months, she got another job and renegotiated her mortgage, catching up on her payments under the new terms.
"In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor-- let them be caught in the schemes they have devised." - Psalm 10
But when Freddie Mac purchased her mortgage from Bank of America, they dishonored her renegotiation. In confusion, they cashed her checks but bungled her paperwork, not applying them to her mortgage. They began foreclosure proceedings against her, selling her house out from under her.
"Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread?" - Psalm 14
For Freddie Mac, Bertina's house is another sheet of bank paper bought at cut-rate prices from Bank of America, a single asset on a balance sheet. Bureaucrats process so many foreclosures they bungle or forge papers, breaking laws that require foreclosure review. This collection of automatic methods for disposing with 11 years of a person's careful investment has been called "robo-signing."
"...trample my courts no more." - Isaiah 1
Ultimately, we are responsible for Bertina's home. Freddie Mac is a Government Sponsored Enterprise under the conservatorship of the federal government, and taxpayers own nearly 200 billion dollars worth of Freddie Mac, despite the fact that they speculated obscenely with our mortgages, creating value from nothing in the derivatives market, inflating profits the way a government prints money.
But what can be done?
"Learn to do good; seek justice; rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." - Isaiah 1
Martin Luther King's work was cut short by his assassination. King fought for civil rights in the deep South, but when he came north to Chicago, he worked for jobs and affordable housing, a stark reminder that injustice was not just a characteristic of provincial southern towns.
Martin Luther King and the SNCC led the way with nonviolent direct action, a way of praying with our bodies.
God is calling. It is no longer a whisper that pierces the veil of our systems of oppression, it is a trumpet. God is calling to us to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Jeremy John is an organizer for Occupy DC and OccupyDC's lay chaplaincy. He contributes to the Good Men Project, Geez, Sojourners, the Huffington Post and Red Letter Christians, blogging here. Jeremy builds websites for progressive social change at EchoDitto and in 2003, spent six months in prison for civil disobedience while working to close the School of the Americas, converting to Christianity while imprisoned.
Foreclosure image via Shutterstock