We continue the Pray A to Z series today, and V is for Voiceless. The voiceless are always in our midst. You may not even realize they are there.
Writer Lisa Van Engen combines her love of writing and social justice. Today, she highlights a number of the voiceless in our midst.
Can you call to mind an encounter with the voiceless? Their images might rise to meet you more easily than you imagine, because they are all around us.
More than 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
She sits slumped at her desk, an island from the others. Encouragement and direction she meets equally with an unaffected eye roll. She scratches answers on her paper carelessly and wanders on the playground. Her behavior clip hoovers on red. She glares from her fringe of messy bangs. In the hallway, when I come alongside her, she reaches a hand up and takes mine. She speaks no words, just this gesture that her tough exterior is paper-thin armor. One morning her desk is empty. She will move to another foster home and attend another school.
Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.Safe Horizons
A mother leaves her children in the shelter’s basement playroom. We make play dinner and serve the creations to stuffed animals. They scramble for a lap to read stories, scatter game pieces, and hold tight to dolls. In this home they live, a place where you must buzz in and show identification to enter. There was no time for them to gather the prepared Halloween costumes. We search through the bin of dress up clothes. A red fireman hat and coat for the little boy, the little girl wears a shimmery purple dress and plastic crown. Their mother returns, slower by evening, weary from a day of navigating a new normal. She takes their hands. They will gather treats from the safety of this place, within its locked doors.
Modern day slavery denies freedom to 20.9 million people globally. Polaris Project
In a darkened theater, we gather to watch the screening of Girl Rising. Nine girls from nine countries who rise above sex trafficking, child labor, child marriage, and lack of education opportunities. Their ages match my own daughter. I can’t help but think that the nine girls from nine countries are our daughters too. They inhabit our world that is so big, and also so small.
An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States. Our immigration system was created 50 years ago and never adapted to meet today’s employment and security needs.Pew Resource Center
He sits in the back of our church faithfully every Sunday. Since he was four he has called the United States home. He traveled across the Mexican American border with his family, although he would not know this until much later. His entire life he has worked: bent in the hot fields, in the back rooms of grocery stores, landscaping the yards of others. In all seasons, including winter, he rides his bicycle to work. He has no papers, no driver’s license, and no assistance. He approaches retirement, and his family has all passed on. The work is difficult for his aging body, but this is the only home he has ever known.
The voices of so many are not heard. There are vulnerable people groups among us, on our streets, within our schools, and in our church pews. Their hope lies in the response of those that see them. Their lives depend on us not only seeing, but also acting on their behalf, alongside them, with courage and Christ’s love.
How can we see?
- Learn about Safe Families a movement of families giving hope to children and parents in crisis.
- Find a women’s shelter in your area and contribute as an individual, family, or group. Donate old phones to Hopeline from Verizon, connecting survivors of domestic violence to vital resources.
- Visit the action center of Polaris Project. Take the Slavery Footprint Survey to see how your purchases affect child labor. Watch the documentary film Girl Rising.
- Learn more about undocumented immigrants in the United States at The Evangelical Immigration Table. Take action with the Office of Social Justice.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see those whose voices are vulnerable in our communities. Help us have courage to step out in faith to advocate and support these brothers and sisters in Christ. Allow their voices and needs to be responded to in love. Please let them know the reassurance of being seen, understood, and heard.
Lisa Van Engen combines her love for writing and social justice issues at About Proximity. Writing has always helped the hope of Christ become real to her, and she seeks to offer that same encouragement to others. She lives in Holland, MI with her husband, daughter, and son.
Tweetables:More than 400k children are in foster care in the US. #Pray for the voiceless. #PrayAtoZ
Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.#PrayAtoZ
Modern day slavery denies freedom to 20.9 million people globally. #PrayAtoZ #humantrafficking
An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States. #PrayAtoZ
@aboutproximity shares with us how we can speak up for the voiceless in our community. #PrayAtoZ.