The Poor People’s Manifesto

The Poor People’s Manifesto

According to the latest census, 40.6 million people live in poverty in the US. Almost half of those people live in extreme poverty. (Their cash income is about $10,000 for a family of four.) 14.5 million of those in poverty are children. Half of those living below the poverty line are actually making less than $16,000 a year, while the top 1 percent make $1.3 million a year.In 2015, 24% of Black people in America were living in poverty, 21% of Hispanic people were living in poverty, 11% of Asians were living in poverty, and 9% of white people were below the poverty line.

Did I lose you?

I imagine these numbers have not left any great impact in your mind. We’re accustomed to seeing statistics, numbers, and percentages of horrific things that happen in the world: shootings, the opioid epidemic, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, the list goes on. Numbers associated with tragedies are listed on our social media feeds and news stations daily.

The more headlines we scroll past, the more we must numb ourselves to their present reality in our lives. While these tragedies amass, our lives continue. Your work deadline is still Friday, your kids have to be picked up from school, and bills are due at the end of the month. Like Stockholm Syndrome, we develop a relationship with the things that threaten our lives. We numb the stories of tragedy in order to continue on with our lives. We keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen to us.

What does it do to us though when we begin to rationalize and intellectualize children starving in our streets? What does it do to a society that moves on without counting the consequence of our collective inaction?

Beyond the numbers and flowcharts, are yes, names and faces. But of course, intellectually, you know that too. What you do not know, are their stories. You do not know what has brought them to where that are and if that same thing couldn’t have happened to you.

Poverty is much more than a number or even a name or a face. It is a storyline that has been deeply rooted in the fabric of our society for generations and generations.

Unfortunately, our individualistic culture tells us that oppression, slavery, and poverty are not our fault, because have we owned slaves? Or oppressed our neighbors? Most of us have not. And see, that’s where the hard work comes in. It’s easy to identify a racist with a confederate flag and a hateful slur, but it is more difficult to identify where we have benefitted from a system that has oppressed and put down the already poor and marginalized.

How to Read This Manifesto:

This manifesto will touch on some of these systemic qualities. We will identify some stereotypes and mistruths about those experiencing poverty. While we hope this to be a comprehensive guide, there will be more work to be done for each of us individually as we come to terms with what role we play in our society. We encourage you to read this with an open mind. If and when something makes you uncomfortable, do not turn the page. Pause, breathe, and dive into feelings of discomfort that are brought up.

Further, in discovering these truths and exploring our history, we ask that you engage in conversations with others. For it is our belief that a society will only begin to change when we are open, honest, transparent, and willing to confront our worldviews with ourselves and each other.

Let’s Talk About Class:

A social class is defined as, “a division of a society based on social and economic status.” Sociologists say there are generally five social classes. You’ve probably heard them, “Upper-Class,” “Upper-Middle Class,” “Lower-Middle Class,” “Working Class,” and “Poor.” The classes are usually based on wealth, educational attainment, occupation, income, and membership in a subculture or social network.

In India, the caste system was a class structure determined by someone’s birth. So if someone was born poor and in a lower caste they would stay poor and in a lower caste. Same for someone born in an upper caste. There was no social mobility and an unequal access to wealth based on the caste you were born into. The caste system was abolished in 1949 but the effects of the system are still felt.

In the United States, we have no formal caste system that determines what job people will have and how much money they will earn. Instead, we have a capitalist system, “an economic system in which individual people make most of the decisions and own most of the property in a country.” In this system, there are free markets and competition people for business and wealth. It means that things like the prison system and healthcare allow private parties to make money off of what many consider fundamental rights. This system can make it difficult for people in the Working Class and Poor Class to have equal opportunities.

So while we do not outwardly label people based on a caste they inherited by birth, many people are still not able to access things like healthcare, employment opportunities, healthy food, and good education, still, because of the environment they were born into.

We inherit the socioeconomic status that our parents occupy and most likely, it’s the same class that has been passed down through the generations. There is an idea in our culture that, “anyone, regardless of his or her socioeconomic history or social position, can make it to the “top” if he or she works hard…” That belief is one that holds the fabric of what the United States is built on together. We would like to believe it is true. Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly how it works.

What put people in these classes in the first place was based on discrimination: gender, race, age. Our society deemed some persons more worthy than others based on those characteristics. We’ve come a long way, we can’t deny the progress we have made as a nation. But we still do discriminate based on the numbers in a bank account, land owned, and the label on someone’s jacket.

The declaration of independence states that, “all men are created equal.” Yet the classes define how each man is treated. In most cases, research shows that the poor will remain poor and the rich will remain rich. What causes this is diverse. We won’t be able to address every potential scenario but here are a few that illustrate what makes it so hard to rise from a working or poor class.

Most public schools are funded by local property taxes. That means the richer the community, the more funding the school receives to educate the students. Education is one of the leading forces in aiding in the rise of class or to earn a higher income. Children pay the price for living in a poorer district.

Individuals in the working class that work a full-time minimum wage job still do not make enough money to pay their bills, feed their families, and save money to move to invest in their futures. How do they get a job that pays more when they are working the job because it matches the level of education that was afforded to them?

Children born into poverty also battle psychological barriers that keep them from thriving and moving up in class. Psychology Today says, “Unfortunately, stress and poverty go hand-in-hand. More important than unhealthy lifestyles and lack of access to good healthcare, chronic stress makes many susceptible to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes…Poor children experience high levels of stress because, amongst other reasons, they live in violent neighborhoods, walk across many busy vehicular intersections, move residences twice as often and get evicted five times as often as the average American, are more likely to be bullied in school.”

These are only the beginning of the list of barriers that hinder people from moving class. If you have questions or want to know more, I encourage you to research the history of poverty and classism.

I understand systemic poverty because I watched my mother struggle to feed us. I understand discrimination because I’ve feared for my life because of the color of my skin. I know what it feels like to be told again and again that you are unworthy because of what you do or do not have. I’ve heard the stories of thousands of poor and homeless persons and I’ve seen myself in all of them. I fought against the odds and wanted to give up.

I imagine you have felt this way too. The pain of the human experience binds us all in some way. We know what it is like feel ashamed, not worthy, and forgotten. Poverty for many of us is tied to the number on our bank accounts, and for others of us, it is tied to the messages we’ve heard all our lives. Either way, we are created equal. So how do we step out of a modern-day caste system and see one another as brothers and sisters in our journey through life?

Who Are The Poor?:

When we look to fact find and search for solutions to the poverty epidemic I suggest that instead of combing through statistics and theorizing back and forth, we turn to those around us who have actually experienced the burden of living in need.

The sum of what I’ve learned has come partially from books, but majorly from the relationships I’ve cultivated with those along the journey. To understand poverty in context you must go to the main source, those experiencing poverty first hand.

We amplify success stories, people who’ve climbed to the top of the ladder and forget those who were left behind. Maybe it’s our human nature to compete and fight our way to be the best. But we’re not all playing by the same rules. Those we’ve left behind and forgotten are more than numbers but have intricate stories that could’ve been any of us.

Let’s talk plainly about the stereotypes placed on the poor.

What makes poor people poor?

They’re lazy. Uneducated. Criminals. They choose to be poor. They’re mentally ill. They’re drunks with substance abuse issues.

First, I would challenge you to ask yourself where these beliefs about the poor began. Did they form from experiences you’ve had with the poor? From the media? From your family?

One day I was at a service day in downtown Atlanta and felt compelled to talk to a man who was stumbling down the sidewalk. I introduced myself and asked him his name. He told me, “I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m a drunk. I’m an alcoholic.”

He started to cry and told me he wanted to share something with me, “I haven’t shared this with anybody but…when I was a kid my grandfather used to have to watch me because my mom was a single parent. My grandad hated watching me. When I was nine he gave me alcohol and sent me into the other room and used the alcohol to keep me quiet. I was drunk at 9 and by the time I was 12 I was addicted.”

To fully understand the context of the person you have to go beyond the surface. Someone who has been medicated with alcohol from the age of nine is not lazy, uneducated, or chose to be poor. Neither is he simply a “drunk” or “alcoholic.” He is someone just like you and me who was treated unfairly as a child with a wound that’s lasted him his entire life.

Do you imagine at the depths of someone’s soul they desire to be dependent on a substance and living on the streets? We can do better. In the richest nation in the world, we can provide training, we can help them get a job with reasonable wages, we can ensure security and basic human needs are met.

What about work?

America’s complex history led to its unequal treatment of citizens through practices like slavery, redlining, and all forms of discrimination. Discrimination led to minorities with little or no assets, no property, and no jobs.

Most people who live below the poverty line work minimum wage jobs. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, which comes to a little over $1,100 a month if someone is working full-time.

The current poverty line is $11,880/year for a single individual and $24,300 for a family of four. If you were to climb $100 over the poverty line, that would cut off all your benefits, and you still would not make enough to survive. So that type of system that keeps people dependent on a system and therefore entrenched in poverty.

The Poor Are People

It’s a terrifying thing to live in constant lack. It’s even more unsettling to discard a person in our society because they do not attain the assets we had, most of which we were granted by good fortune.

The poor are people, we must not forget.

What is at Stake?:

A society that accepts the fact that children, women, and men, are on our streets, sleeping under bridges, and dying from hunger and cold will never be great, or progress, and will decay as our souls choose possessions over people.

What is at stake when we choose material possessions and comfort over the safety of our peers? When we drive past people holding their signs again and again?

We idolize the materialistic benefits from a capitalist society instead of valuing the human capital that surrounds us.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.”

We make each other wealthy when we are caring for one another in ways that provide every man, woman, and child a seat at the table and an equal opportunity to succeed. It’s not the resources that we have that make us rich, it’s the relationships we have and the connectivity of a global village.

When we choose instead the chase of more, we become shallow and perpetuate a hollow facade. We will live behind veneers of what success looks like while we are never fully satisfied.

It is a simple message at its core. We either become a society and a people with all the resources in the world that choose to become responsible and care for the people around us or we choose to build our own kingdoms at the expense of those suffering.

What Can We Do?

We cannot let poverty persist and plague our nation. We must take responsibility for our brothers and sisters, the citizens of our country. They must be afforded the same rights.

We call for a solution. Different sides of politics can no longer divide men, women, and children from the basic necessities to live—and more than just survive. We call for a solution that eradicates the poverty class by ensuring a livable wage and opportunity is provided for every citizen.

We call for a visibility of the poor and to ensure:

  • The Poverty Elimination Fund
    • A fund derived from a percentage of a tax that would go to local and federal programs dedicated to alleviate issues stemming from poverty. (Ex. aid for the water crisis in Flint, MI. or local housing and job programs.)
  • Abandoned Building Clause
    • A law that states that any abandoned buildings owned by the government that has been empty/unused for 5 years are allocated a % of local govt taxes to use on building that must benefit the community. (Empty buildings are costing taxpayers billions and even government officials know that there is a better way.)
  • Living wages
    • The poverty line and minimum wage is not a livable wage. New standards need to be in place as to what defines “livable.” These standards must be decided by lawmakers and include a vote by 51% people who have lived in poverty for 15+ years.

If you think that these requests are far fetched or unreasonable, let me present you with some highlights from the 2016 Budget Fact Sheet on Homeless Assistance.

Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $71.5 million

Health Care for the Homeless: $371 million

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness: $65 million

Treatment Systems for Homelessness: $41 million

Homeless Prevention and Housing Programs: $33 million

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act: $123 million

Department of Housing and Urban Development Programs: $2.480 billion

Emergency Food and Shelter Program: $100 million

Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program: $38 million

Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program: $201 million

The Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans Program: $183 million

Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program: $155 million

The Justice Outreach, Homelessness Prevention: $38 million

That comes to a total of: $3,899,000,000 spent on the 40.6 million people living in poverty and homelessness. You could give each person in poverty a million dollars every year and still be saving over $3.500 billion dollars.

Surely we can consider alternative solutions that provides people with incomes rather than funding programs with billions of dollars.

Martin Luther King Jr made these notes on his plans to eradicate poverty, “The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”

For Churches:

We ask that churches take a commitment to live out the gospel as was demonstrated and to keep a commitment to love thy neighbor as yourself. These requests are adapted from these two passages:

“Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” —Matthew 22:37, 39

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” —Matthew 25:34-40 NKJV

For Civic Organizations:

We ask for a commitment to hold these values true:

  • Dignity
  • Love
  • Sacrifice
  • Generosity
  • Justice

Our society and the plight of the poor depends heavily on the individual citizens and organizations to uphold these ideals when engaging with one another.

What Can You Do?

In conclusion of reading this manifesto we ask two things:

  1. Sign the petition to call for a solution for poverty.
  2. Adopt these tenants:
      • Long Obedience – Adopt a mindset of resilience and commitment. The journey to changing this issue is a long road and not a short path.
      • Instead of being driven by news cycles, we must choose to become dedicated to issues we care about and be willing to fight and have long obedience to see the solutions.
      • Collaboration With One Another – Work intandom with other groups, agenginces, and people of good will to make changes locally and nationally.
      • Openness – Remain open to learn new ideas, and allow those ideas to influence your involvement.
      • Responsibility for One Another – Understand that we need each other in an interdependent manner.
      • Solution Oriented – Commit yourself to being a person that thinks critically about providing solutions and not only focusing in on the problems.
      • Generosity – Live with extreme generosity knowing that you excess could be the answer to someone’s problem.
      • Value People Over Things – Place a higher value on people than material possessions.
      • Love Above All Else – Love like God intents.

Sign our petition [HERE]

LBW Team

Finish Line Recap – MAP18

Check out the finish line recap video from the last day of #MAP18 – We hope that it inspires you.
 
On this day, many people joined and walked the last few miles with Terence to the Lorraine Motel.
 
Additionally, Terence said a few words at the national commemorative event to honor Dr. MLK Jr. for the 50th.
 
Be inspired and share.

Finish Line Recap – MAP18 from Love Beyond Walls on Vimeo.

#MAP18 #MLK50th #lovebeyondwalls
LBW Team

A Family That Sacrifices Together – MAP18

There’s an old adage that goes something like this, “A family that prays together stays together!” It was first coined in the early by Father Patrick Peyton, a Irish Roman Catholic priest and founder of the “Family Rosary Crusade.”

Peyton was a popular and charismatic figure in Latin America and popularized the phrase “The family that prays together stays together” in the early 1900’s.

Without damaging the integrity of what Peyton was trying to communicate, I’d like to alter this phrase just a tad.

While walking on #MAP18 to bring attention to the poor and vulnerable, my wife and I have learned that not only does “a family prays together stays together,” but also “a family that sacrifices together must also endure burdens together.”

I love my family, and I know this journey has been hard on them like it has been hard on me.

In fact, if you know me then you know that family and friendship mean a lot to me. My family is my heartbeat and I don’t call a lot of people friend. But, if I do call you friend then I do really mean it.

Over the last 23 days, my wife and children have had to endure some of the same hardships that I have experienced. Why? Because whatever I carry they carry as well.

For instance, on the last walk to Washington D.C., they were able to walk with me and experience the walk too, but on this walk we felt that it was safer for them to be present but not walk.

My wife opened up and did an interview to explain what she has felt while I’ve been on this particular walk.

You’ll be able to view that below, but I would like to first share a few things that my wife and I have learned is this journey:

Here goes…

I. We’ve learned that when one person in the family is called to a mission, everyone in the family is called to that same mission.

It must be agreed upon by everyone in the family to carry the load and sacrifice. If everyone is not on board, then it will make the mission even harder. As a family, we all feel like this is what we were assembled to do together as a unit—serve those who are forgotten.

II. We’ve learned that when one person feels pressure, everyone feels that pressure.

For instance, in the video below my wife explains what she’s been carrying although not walking with me every single day.

One of the ways we maintain strength is by reminding each other of our original commitment to finish what we’ve started no matter what the outcome is.

III. We’ve learned that if children are present, they are watching.

On day 22, my daughter wrote me a note about what she is learning from watching my wife and I.

She said, “I’m learning that when we take care of those who are poor, God takes care of us.” Each day, I’m not only driven by who I’m fighting for, but by who is watching me—my children.

Check out the full video below to hear my wife’s side of the story below:

Cecilia’s view of MAP18 from Love Beyond Walls on Vimeo.

Terence

Why I’m Marching – MAP18

It’s official. The countdown begins. Today, Terence will make 21 days walking on behalf of the poor in our country. On March 3rd, he set out on a 386 mile journey on foot to the Lorraine Motel to bring attention to poverty and honor MLK’s life.

He started from the Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta, GA and has walked all the way to Mississippi. It’s his hope to arrive at the Lorraine by April 4th (MLK50th).

People have asked him what’s the one thing he wants people to hear from this sacrifice. It’s simple. We have over a 100 million people in our country living near or below the poverty line. Therefore, “Poor People Matter.”

Why I’m Marching – MAP18 from Love Beyond Walls on Vimeo.

LBW Team

An Open Apology To Everyone Experiencing Homelessness

Can I ask you an important question?

What breaks your heart? If fact, if you have a heartbeat, you’ve experienced some type of heartache before.

Maybe it was a disappointment. Maybe it was some sort of loss. Maybe it was self-inflicted because of a bad decision. Maybe it was some type of relational hurt.

Whatever it was, you will never forget how that heartbreak felt.

Not to diminish personal heartbreaks, but I’m after a different type of answer in this blog.

I’m seeking to know what breaks your heart publicly? Most times when we think of heartbreak, we only think of it from a personal lens.

So for the sake of this blog, I would like for you to pause for a moment to consider another type of heartbreak.

Let’s look at it from a different viewpoint.

Let me ask you again. When you look out into the world, what breaks your heart?

Is it sex-trafficking? Is it racial division? Is it hungry children? Is it poverty or homelessness?

Whatever it is, it has to be something! If I can be completely honest, I am afraid that we are moving further and further away from empathy and into the abyss of apathy.

Yesterday, my friend and I visited Birmingham, AL after I walked tons of miles on behalf of the poor for #MAP18.

We visited the 16th Baptist Church and walked around the historical park across from it.

This is the same church where four little girls were killed when the church was bombed during the Civil Rights movement.

After soaking up both the deep tragedies and triumphs of Birmingham, we hopped in the car and drove to find people dealing with homelessness.

We encountered a few people. One lady dealing with a mental disability stood on the corner and literally used the restroom on herself. I suspect she did it because she had nowhere to go to relieve herself, and no support and community.

It broke my heart. Would that break your heart? To know that she was out there alone with no clothes and probably no medication or treatment?

Then we finally met Eric.

Eric is the reason I’m writing this apology.

I’ve worked in homelessness ministry for 14 years, but something about Eric broke my heart all over again.

He was walking down the street when I noticed him. He left one of his many bags sitting on the ground (which was a sign that he was possibly homeless).

I stopped the car and asked him if he needed some help. He responded, “Yeah, I do need some help carrying my bag.”

What I think Eric was really saying is, “I need someone. Anybody. Support.”

I parked, got out of the car, and carried his bags a few hundred feet to an empty park where he’d stay the night.

For some reason, he immediately opened up and began to share his story,

“I used to be a pharmacy student. I was on the right track, and I had a mental breakdown. In fact, here’s my medicine I have to take right here. I struggle with depression.”

After talking for a while, he paused and asked a question that I will never forget. He asked, “Who sent you all?” He then looked up towards heaven and said, “I know you all being here is divine.”

It kind of reminded me of the scripture when Jesus says, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Eric with a grateful disposition said, “You all are making me rich today. Keep loving people.”

What I think Mr. Eric was saying is, “Thank you for making me rich by stopping and noticing me in the ruins of my life. Thank you for not judging me and taking time to stop and make me rich by noticing that I exist. Thank you for praying with me when people use their bias to prey on me.”

After spending time with Eric, my heart broke again for the many people experiencing homelessness across this country. Therefore, I want to apologize to a community of people that constantly feels isolated and alone.

So here goes:

Today, I want to apologize to you if you’re experiencing homelessness and have been judged, overlooked, walked by, and abused by the words of people who have never walked in your shoes.

I apologize that you feel alone and like no one has been there for you.

I apologize that we live in a society that looks down on you when you can’t shower, brush your teeth, sleep in a bed, have a change of clothes, or meet some false expectations.

I apologize every single time you reached out, and literally got nothing in return.

I apologize when people look at you on the side of the road, and lock their doors and ride by.

I apologize that you somehow find yourself isolated, and are unable to trust the outside world.

I apologize that we have somehow overlooked your traumas and judged you when you developed a mental health issue and used substances to cope with life.

I apologize that some of us haven’t displayed the same love towards you that we want from God.

I apologize that you have to sometimes sleep outside when there are abandoned buildings all around you that could help you.

I apologize for every single time you were put out of a shelter, asked to provide ID when you didn’t have one, and shoved leftovers like you don’t have a preference(s).

I apologize we haven’t made you a priority in our country, and I apologize if you serve in our country and are still struggling to find benefits and housing.

I apologize that we haven’t allowed your plights to break our hearts to the point where we rise up and say enough is enough.

I apologize and I want you to know that I love you, and there are many others like me out here that love you.

I love you for being brave enough to weather your hardships sometimes with a smile and faith.

I admire you for having the courage to weather poverty and in many instances with deferred hope.

Today, I and thinking about you and what you to know my heart breaks for this plight.

I will continue to fight on your behalf.

This is my apology.

Your friend,

Terence

Hate won’t stop me!

I’ve been up since 3AM thinking about today’s walk. Today makes 8 days since I left the Center for Civil & Human Rights and started walking to the Lorraine Motel.

Yesterday, I crossed the state line.

Although a huge accomplishment, it has come with both blessing and challenges as I walk through small towns.

For instance, yesterday I was walking with my friends and had three experiences that made my flesh crawl and eyes water.

The first experience was when a young guy threatened to hit my friend and I.

Harvey and I were walking on the side of the road with a good shoulder between us and the actual road. We thought we were safe because we were not in the road.

We were feeling good, and then I saw a car coming at us. Yes. A car intentionally coming at us.

The driver was not texting and driving, and he was not distracted. I know this because he looked me dead in my eyes as he pointed the moving vehicle towards us.

As he got closer, at the last minute he swerved the car and flipped us the finger and sped off.

What would make this guy do that? Racism? Hate? I don’t know but it made me feel unwanted as I walked through a city where people were looking at us strange and dealing with tons of poverty.

As soon as we got past that incident, we encountered another incident.

I’ll never forget 10 minutes later two guys in a red pick up truck (with a confederate flag on the bumper) pulled up beside Harvey and I and stared us down and pulled off fast and yelled out the window, “Be safe out here.”

After the second incident, I then noticed I wasn’t wanted in the city.

But, I continued to walk. Why? Because although I was being treated wrong I still saw their poverty. I saw that many of people that were being mean towards us also were in poverty.

I had a moment where I wanted to play it safe and say it isn’t worth it, but then I thought…

“I’m walking for people that may be poor but hate the color of my skin.”

It was at that moment that God gave me the courage to continue walking towards the AL state line.

Jesus’ words yet again challenged me to love in spite of the hatred.

He says,

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”

—Matthew 5:44 NKJV

Although I wanted to get angry, love wouldn’t allow me to do it.

I thought about King’s non-violent approach to solving issues. Although King’s words were radical at moments he also expressed genuine love to all.

In fact, he understood that love is the strongest force when he said in his book Strength to Love, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

After having all those glorious thoughts I was given yet another experience to test my heart to see if I meant it.

Almost three miles from the state border, another pick up truck pulled up beside us, and rolled down the window and stared us down.

We thought they were going to ask us if we needed a ride, but they didn’t.

They backed their truck up (screeching the tires) and sat there looking at us roaring their engine. Ali (a spot car driver) was close and we hopped into the car until they left.

Afterwards, we got out and continued to walk.

Each encounter felt like hate, racism, and anger.

Thinking about the depths of what I felt made me refrain from sharing on social media until I gathered my thoughts.

This morning, as I write this some people will not like it but others will understand what experiences like those do to an African American in this country.

I don’t like racism. It’s sin and shouldn’t exist. But, it does exist and we have to work to eradicate it altogether. We must do it together and not blame each other!

Although I’d love to get angry and stop the march because of those experiences my passion won’t allow me to do that.

Not only am I marching for the poor, I’m also marching for the poverty stricken that may not like the color of my skin.

Why? Because that’s what God has called me to do—love regardless.

Terence

Moving Past The Fear

Today is DAY 4 of #MAP18 and my body is feeling the wear and tear already. Not to mention, I just looked outside and it’s raining. I remember these types of days during the last walk, and they are draining.

If I’m honest, I’d like to pack up my bags and go home where it’s comfortable and safe.

Why? Because the roads ahead of me are long, and filled with the unknown. But, I’m the type of person that never commits to anything that I’m not willing to complete and finish.

Sometimes people think because I do these type of campaigns that fear isn’t present, but that’s actually not true. Fear is always there, but my faith is greater!

I believe a little bit of fear is always present with all of us, and that same fear paralyzes some people from moving forward. It’s only four days into this journey and the fear  is telling me to stop and go back home! 

But, each time I see a different face of someone who is poor, voiceless, or vulnerable God’s courage tells me to continue.

We must press and move past the fear in order to fulfill our purpose(s). How fear is holding you back and telling you to go home?

Maybe to overcome it, you may have to do what I’m doing and listen to courage and faith more.

Last night, I was reminded that I’m not only walking for people who are poor, but also for those who may need to have their perspectives changed.

I was inboxed over Facebook by a man that I never met, but he said my posts changed his perspective.

He writes,

“Hey Terence. First of thank you for caring for the people of the world unconditionally. Second thank you for moving me. I seen a post of yours about 30 minutes ago and have been scroll threw your page. I’m young and have a young family and you have inspired me, and reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for. I have been feeling a little lost and it realized threw your videos and post and movement that it’s because I have been focused on myself and my family. When someone out there would love to just have a warm meal or even a kind word. Again thank you. I will share your story in hopes that your movement may change the world or at the very least someone else’s moment.”

His posts echos two messages that will push me today.

Firstly, it echos that no matter where we are in life, we should remain grateful. Gratitude is the fuel that keeps us focused on what matters most and centers us inwardly. This same gratitude pushes us to stand in awe of God.

Second and last, it echos that life is too short to only be focused on yourself and play it safe. We are are given opportunities to serve those around us and we must be bold in serving others.

As I close this blog, I’m thinking about Jesus’ words found in Luke 4,

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19, NKJV

Terence