Our state and nation are in a time of civil discord. My own preacher, the Rev. Betty Connette, challenged us a few weeks ago to be Citizens of Heaven and to live out a different set of values patterned after Jesus not Caesar…to serve others rather than lord it over them. Our voices are sorely needed in the halls of government these days, and as Betty told us later, we are called to take up the cross and not to avoid suffering at all costs.
There is a great need for stories to share publically with the press, with Congress and with our NC legislators who need to see the faces and hear the voices of the people that their legislation affects. Stories like Jesus tells. Advocacy groups are looking for people to tell them.
At the state level, Medicaid expansion has been declined — at a cost of denying health insurance to 500,000 North Carolinians. Do you have friends, family, congregants or neighbors who would be eligible for health care under Medicaid expansion and will have great difficulty with their medical care without expansion? Or do you know someone who is losing their unemployment insurance due to the cuts there?
At the national level, lots of social safety net programs will be cut under sequestration. Do you have stories of someone is losing or who could lose federal benefits (for WIC, work-study aid, rental housing vouchers, affordable child care, vocational rehab services, head start, etc. ) due to sequestration? Estimates are that in this year alone, NC would lose $25.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk, and would lose $1.5 million that provides meals for seniors. In NC 1,500 children lose access to Head Start and 1,300 parents lose child care subsidies. Information specific to North Carolina can be found here.
If you don’t have a story but feel strongly about the impact on the least of these, or if you have a story you would be willing to share, please write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the need for a moral budget that provides for the common good. We are denying many of our low-income brothers and sisters life-giving resources with our budgets and laws. We have to keep the faces of all God’s children in our leaders’ thoughts and minds. I can provide sites where resources and ideas are available or provide other help as you write your letter. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We must gain a faithful voice in our state and nation. Discipleship is hard work, and we must not grow weary. May the church’s voice be loud and clear. May we work for God’s Kingdom even at personal cost.
Peace in this Lenten season where poverty and uncertainty impact the lives of so many.
–Sandy Irving, Volunteer Program Associate