"I thank my God every time I think of you. In every prayer I utter, as I plead on your behalf, I rejoice at the way you have all continually helped promote the good news from the very first day."
I do give thanks every time I think of the work we are able to do together. After every speaking event we do, every conference or mobilization we convene, I am blessed when people tell me what Sojourners has meant to them. I love the feedback and emails we get after someone has seen or heard us in an interview on television or radio, and it's always the same: "I feel inspired -- to act."
Individual Christians tell me how that inspiration has guided their vocation, ministry, life choices, and family values. Churches tell me how that inspiration has led them into their communities to do acts of compassion and social justice in Jesus' name. National church leaders and local pastors have told me for three decades how Sojourners helps teach them how to fulfill the biblical mandate to be "prophetic" in their society. They tell me we have given them the courage to "stand up." And, now, a new generation of Christians is coming of age and wants that same inspiration -- more than half of our audiences are under 30. I spend a good deal of my time mentoring "emerging leaders." So now we have the opportunity to help shape the faith of the next generation.
This year, I feel the hopeful expectation of Advent; but also the real stress of end-of-the-year fundraising -- the burden of all leaders of faith-based and nonprofit organizations -- trying to keep their mission alive and well, and trying to protect the lives and families of those who so tirelessly and sacrificially give themselves to that mission. But what gives me both hope and strength is hearing the countless stories of what Sojourners has meant to so many of you: how our work, day after day, and year after year, has sustained your faith and ministries over the years.
I don't want to sound like National Public Radio, but if Sojourners has informed, supported, encouraged, or inspired you, could you please, this Advent and Christmas season, give a gift back to Sojourners? I can't tell you how much, in this severely challenging economic time, your gift would mean to us and to me. As NPR would say, you could give us a gift and/or make us a pledge for the equivalent of a cup of coffee a day, or a day's wages, or a tithe, or a bequest. They say, "if you listen, help us pay for it." I say, if we help or inspire you as a Christian, help us to continue to do that for you and so many others.
I am asking for your help this Christmas. Your support, more than ever now, is what makes Sojourners able to continue to inspire. For the inspiration you have received and for the next generation: We need you now.
A personal story:
Over dinner last night, Joy and I spoke to our sons Luke and Jack about the meaning of Advent as preparation for the coming of Christ. We decided as a family to go through all our stuff -- toys, clothes, and possessions -- to find the things we really don't need. Then we decided to give each other just a few nice and simple gifts instead of a pile of presents, and to focus on being as generous as we can this Christmas in giving to poor and struggling families at home and around the world, as well as to the Christian organizations who work so hard for social justice. The kids seemed quite excited about this, and Jack started going through his stuff right away.
I would suggest the same to your family. In a time when so many people and so many Christian organizations are really struggling, let's all go through the "stuff" of our lives and find ways to be even more generous to the poor and to those like Sojourners whose voice and work lifts up the biblical call to social justice -- a ministry needed now more than ever.
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.