Fighting the Good Fight!

A great deal of my time is spent with people experiencing homelessness! I also go into Cook County Jail and know many who are either incarcerated, on parole, probation or have rap sheets! Every day I work with people who struggle with mental illnesses, addictions, chronic health issues and so much more. I don’t find this a drag, I love what I do and consider it an honor and privilege!

During my past 20 years of attempting to live out what Jesus calls us to do, I have come to know some extraordinary people who have dedicated their lives in different ways to fight for those whom society has judged, criminalized, neglected and rejected. It's amazing to watch people courageously use their unique gifts and talents, to stand up and advocate for those who need help. I've learned, and continue to learn, so much by walking alongside some absolute gems who have persevered, are compassionate and continue to love despite all odds stacked against them.

For over 2 decades I’ve enjoyed networking and collaborating with people who have dedicated their lives to being a "voice for the voiceless". I'm talking about folk who are willing to get down and dirty, who've been willing to challenge our unjust authorities and refuse to give in. Jesus spoke highly about people who give while knowing they won't receive anything in return. It is a pleasure to connect with people who live out these words daily, and they do it out of love!

This post is dedicated to all those who fight with and for those who society has turned their backs upon, have criminalized or bullied! This is dedicated to the people who get dressed every single day to go into the trenches for those who are experiencing homelessness, are in prison or lay in hospitals. This is dedicated to the wonderful folks I know who fight and advocate for those who are discriminated against and profiled because of limb differences, the color their skin, their genders, their sexual preferences, their backgrounds, their identities, their religious beliefs or a whole host of other reasons people find to hate and degrade others! 

Jesus loved and lifted up those who the world hated. Jesus wasn't about hate and rejection, he brought compassion, forgiveness, and mercy where there wasn't any. Jesus rebuked the religious and political leaders who controlled the money and had the power, who made life hell for those who were poor, suffering and weak. I'm glad to say, I know a whole bunch of people who are following in his footsteps, attempting to love and fight for those who have been rejected too! 

This is the Kingdom of God in action: "Your Kingdom come, your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus calls us to bring His Kingdom, His Will, His way of doing things, into our midst!  

What aggravates me is this false perception that’s out there, a belief that those who fight and advocate for the poor are “poverty pimps” and “glory seekers”, wanting fame and fortune by exploiting those at the bottom. What aggravates me more is another false perception, that those who get more money, hold higher positions or have a title behind their names are the truly dedicated workers. That has not been my experience, I’ve observed that those who get less are the truly dedicated ones, because they do it from their hearts, not for the love of power and mammon. On too many occasions, I’ve observed those who make 6 figures (or close to it), those with political power, those touted as dedicated public servants, come off as scared and afraid to even talk to those they are paid to help!  

I recently went to an event designed to assist those living under the Lawrence viaduct. The “power players” stood off to the side expecting those experiencing homelessness to come to them. Only a few of us ventured under the viaduct to sit and talk to those in tents! There was a huge divide between those standing in suits in the sun and those sitting in the shade under the leaking crumbling bridge. As a few of us were chatting under the viaduct, we were amused (and saddened at the same time) to see one prominent 46th ward politician rush past us, with his head down, avoiding eye contact with his homeless constituents, to get to the "safety" of where his peers were, where he lolly-gagged with them. 

This image struck me because it reveals the stark contrast between the "haves" and "have-nots" and the how those with the power and money are often not willing to go into the trenches. They talk a good game, they create an image, but their deeds reveal something very different. There are those who love to accuse certain activists, outreach workers, advocates, preachers and do-gooders as poverty pimps and glory seekers! If these terms must be used, let us ask ourselves, who are the real poverty pimps and glory seekers?

I am surrounded by people who sacrifice what little time they have, what little reputation they have, what little power they have and what little money they have for the sake of others. I see this sacrifice and I'm often pained to see them get ridiculed and called names for doing good. Every day they struggle for what's right, knowing they aren't receiving recognition or an earthly reward. Jesus who made the ultimate sacrifice for humanity, for the sake of righteousness, knew what the consequences were for fighting for what's right. He knows about the abuse of power and the struggle we fight for, and that's why he said these words, "blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for there's is the kingdom of heaven."

I observe all these efforts and I'm proud to call them friends and allies.....
  • Every day, I have the pleasure of working with friends who demonstrate so much love to their homeless and poor neighbors. They see each person as an individual and assist them the best they can. They make every effort, with little or no pay, to help them successfully move from homeless to housed. 
  • Without pay and recognition, friends of mine go to Cook County Jail and prisons offering hope, music and the good news of the gospel. They also continue to minister to them when they return home and attempt to live in a society that doesn't like to forgive. They know it's not just about preaching, but about helping people overcome all the obstacles that incarceration brings. 
  • I've watched friends pay for transportation and organize buses out of their own pockets to help those who are homeless get to where they needed to go. They didn't need to do it, but they saw the need, realized there was a giant obstacle and responded.
  • I've seen friends spend countless hours, outside of their work hours, fight and advocate for those living in tents. I've seen them stand up people's rights and risk their own safety so others wouldn't get arrested and bullied. I watch lawyers use their skills to fight for people without a voice!
  • I know friends who pay for tents, sleeping bags, blankets, and other life-saving items. Not only that, they took time and effort to set up those tents and made sure the recipients were safe and secure before they left. 
  • I utterly respect my friends who use their law degrees to fight against the injustices of our prison system. Every day they battle against the torturous actions like solitary confinement and the unfairness of the bond system. These struggles are not glamorous or high paying, yet they do it because it's the right thing to do!
  • I have friends who have used their own money and time to assist refugees in their time of crisis. The differences of language, culture, and religion were brushed aside as they took families in and offered them the love and acceptance Jesus asks us to display. 
  • I am honored to have so many friends who daily sacrifice both time and money for the sake of others; especially those without much. I love watching the people I know offer clothing, food, hospital visits, and a shoulder to cry on; and they don't it out of obligation or for money, they do it from their hearts!
Jesus calls us to "love our neighbors as ourselves". Jesus calls us to use what little we have for Him and He will empower us and move through us! I see this every day, and thank you to all my friends who are fighting the good fight! God bless you all. 

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