By Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach
Many of us start the new year by making ambitious resolutions. What if we, as a country, did the same? “In 2014, we resolve to stop deporting immigrants, end mass incarceration, and work toward world peace…”
Lofty, perhaps, and yet, as we move into the new year, it is worth taking a look at how we are spending our God-given time and energies. What is it that we are working towards? Longing for? How do these priorities match with those of God’s kingdom?
Our “wish list” for 2014
- A peaceful and just resolution to conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and Israel, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan
- An increased say for Haitian civil society in the reconstruction of their country
- Reforms to the U.S. food aid system and passage of the farm bill
- More funding for international poverty reduction programs
- Just and humane immigration reform with no further border militarization, including a suspension of detentions and deportations of undocumented immigrants
- Environmental policies that curb carbon emissions, reduce pollution and promote sustainable energy
- Access to affordable, quality health care for all
- A reversal of the tide of mass incarceration and an end to racial disparities in the criminal justice system through sentencing and reentry reforms
- The application of a restorative justice lens to criminal and juvenile justice
- Common-sense gun safety legislation
None of these will be accomplished quickly, or as a result of only our staff’s efforts. But we believe that these priorities are in keeping with our best understanding of God’s will for us on earth—that God’s desire is for an all-encompassing shalom that includes economic justice (Leviticus 25; Acts 2:43-45), peace (Isaiah 2:2-4; Matthew 5:43-48) and right relationships (Psalm 133; Luke 10:25-37).
If we are indeed longing, praying and working for what is in line with God’s will, Jesus promises that our prayers and efforts will be rewarded: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). This should give us great confidence and encouragement to persist in seeking to do good (Amos 5:14-15).
Our work in 2013
In the past year, we benefited from the insights of Brian Kaylor, an assistant professor at James Madison University, who was professor-in-residence at our office for three weeks during the summer. In August we said farewell to Jesse Epp-Fransen, who is now in law school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and welcomed Agnes Chen to the staff as our new Legislative Assistant and Communications Coordinator.
We hosted MCC staff and partners here in D.C. to talk about Haiti, Colombia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Palestine and Israel, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, global HIV/AIDS, gun legislation and immigration.
Our staff also met directly with policymakers in the White House, Congress, the Department of State and other federal agencies.
Throughout the year our staff spoke to congregations and conferences in Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, Kansas, Indiana and Virginia. In the coming year we would love to visit your community as well, so please do not hesitate to invite us.
All of these efforts in the past year and our anticipated ones in the year to come, are done with fervent hope and belief in the power of God to move mountains–and yes, even a hill such as Capitol Hill.