M2EP Live: Charlotte Keys Update

By Elizabeth Palmberg 04-27-2009

I was delighted to run into Charlotte Keys, head of Jesus People Against Pollution of Columbia, MS, whom I'd interviewed for Sojourners' March issue, at the Mobilization. She had just come from leading a meeting last Thursday about formaldehyde in FEMA trailers (see the Sierra Club's press release here). "I am tired of the hidden injustices. You can't correct what's hid - the devil works in the dark," she told me, recounting how Gulf Coast residents continue to suffer, not only from formaldehyde-laden trailers, but also from withheld insurance payments and from houses that have yet to be rebuilt.

Evangelist Keys, who preached at a church in D.C. Sunday morning, continues to emphasize the "faith" in faith-based advocacy. "People have been telling me for 20 years to change the name" of Jesus People Against Pollution, she said, but she remains firm in "apply[ing] the name of Jesus to all that you do," citing Colossians 3:17. "The air that we breathe is the Lord's. The water that we're all drinking - who told us to poison that? The devil."

I was excited to join Keys and friends at lunch, where the conversation turned to God's timing. "When God gets ready to move, there's no one who can block it," as Margelet Fields put it. Onleilove Alston made the point that, just as God was forming Moses for 40 years, "in the 'between times,' God is molding you, healing you, transforming you. Today, people don't want to go through the processing time," instead wanting to jump straight to realizing the vision, rather than sticking with God's process.

One thing that seems certain is that Keys will continue to wait on the Lord. "God's not going to force anybody" to turn to God, she affirms, but "we've got to hear God, we've got to be sensitive to the voice of Jesus. That's what's going to turn this whole thing around. The Earth does not belong to humans! We are getting in deep trouble with the Lord himself, because the Earth is crying out from its abuse."

Elizabeth Palmberg is an assistant editor of Sojourners.

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