Taking the long view

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

 

These words, written by Bishop Ken Untener and often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, are on a well-worn piece of paper taped to my desk by my predecessor, J. Daryl Byler. Each day they remind me to step back, take a deep breath and remember to place the day in God’s hands, not my own. Here in the MCC U.S. Washington Office our work has many challenges. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the pain and suffering around us— of communities of color devastated by the impact of mass incarceration, of migrants unable to see loved ones because they lack the proper documents, of families torn apart by brutal wars, of a planet groaning under the impact of climate change. In the face of these challenges, working with a “do-nothing” Congress is even more discouraging. How can partisanship and pettiness get in the way of seeking meaningful solutions to these vexing problems? Yet the work continues. And it helps to remind ourselves to take the long view. We remember that we are working toward:

  • A humane response to immigrant families and children arriving from Central America, the closure of all family detention centers and nofurther border militarization;
  • An end to mass incarceration, starting with passage of common-sense reforms to the criminal justice system, such as the Smarter Sentencing Act and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act; Environmental policies that curb carbon emissions, promote sustainable energy, and support international adaptation efforts;
  • The ability of human rights defenders and justice advocates to carry out their work in peace as they stand up for the vulnerable and oppressed of their societies;
  • Housing rights for all Haitians, starting with a coordinated ministry of housing within the Haitian government;
  • The advancement of the peace process in Colombia, with justice for all Colombians;
  • An end to the brutal civil wars raging in Syria and Iraq, and a just and equitable resolution for Palestinians and Israelis
  • An end to the fighting in eastern Congo, and the chance for displaced people to return to their homes;
  • The ability of everyone, everywhere, to have enough food to eat.
Our work takes many forms, as described in the following pages. In addition, in the past
year we have met with student groups from Messiah College, Eastern Mennonite University, Eastern Mennonite High School and Christopher Dock High School. We sponsored a high school essay contest, focused on the topics of global hunger, restorative justice and U.S. policy toward Haiti. Our staff traveled to Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, Iran, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Haiti. We hosted staff from MCC’s advocacy offices in Ottawa and New York, MCC program staff from across theU.S. and the MCC U.S. board. And together with Wallace and Evelyn Shellenberger of Paoli, Indiana, we hand-delivered copies of their book,“Welcome to Iran!” to several hundred congressional offices. As we do this work, and look ahead to the years to come, we are reminded by these words in 2 Corinthians 4:18 to take the long view: “We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can beseen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”
—Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

p. 2 advocacy network
Staff from MCC’s Washington, UN, and Ottawa offices gathered in Washington in September.

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