Sunday evening the Mobilization to End Poverty will begin. More than 1,000 faith leaders and activists from around the country will gather to worship, fellowship, and advocate for the biblical imperative of reducing domestic and global poverty.
If you are not planning to join us, there are two things I'd like to ask you to do.
Watch with us. The federal budget has passed both the House and Senate. After a conference committee reconciles the differences between them, the final budget language will be approved. And then the real work begins.
The crucial appropriations process will continue for months, with most decisions on important programs to support low-income people yet to be decided.
Key provisions for nutrition, child care and early education, the child tax credit, affordable housing, job training, educational opportunity, health care, and vital foreign aid to combat hunger and disease will all be major struggles.
At the Mobilization, we will be equipping people to make initial contacts with their members of Congress to express our concern that those in poverty not be forgotten. And then we will return home to watch as they deliberate, and to continue advocating for new priorities. Throughout the spring and summer, we will be providing up-to-date information on the process and the critical issues as we encourage you to watch, pray, and act.
Pray with us. As people of faith, we know that "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1). Pray that the Mobilization will be an informative and inspiring experience for those who attend. Pray that God will use us to be effective witnesses to the reality of poverty in the U.S. and around the world. Pray that the members of Congress and their staffs that we visit will have open minds and hearts.
Our politics and this budget will revert naturally to old habits and bad priorities -- with the poor bearing the brunt, once again, of deficit reduction -- unless there are powerful, even spiritual, forces pushing better and newer priorities.
Now, more than ever, we need to watch and pray.