May 7, 2015

Just Perish: Faith & Social Advocacy

By Felicia Woodard
Source: Girl Learns World

The story of Esther is one of the most popular stories in the bible, especially for young women.  It has been extremely romanticised and even commercialized in movies, Pinterest quotes, & used for every women's conference to motivate women to "receive their breakthrough" & "prepare to meet their king".

I sound stale about it I know. I am not here to debate the pedalling of scripture.
What I AM here to do is to encourage & possibly even galvanize using the very same story.

The same story that many women use as encouragement to meet their husband, is also a story about social advocacy. That's right. A faithful Jewish girl was an advocate for her people. An activist for an oppressed community.
A woman that showed fruit by tangibly helping people.
I write this because I myself have been convicted by my own spiritually laziness. There are many times I have prayed for people or told them " I will pray for you." I imagine there was something tangible that could have been done as well. Follow me.

Upon Mordecai's request, Esther was unsure. However, Esther chapter 4 explains to us that yes she fasted and prayed.......but she got up. She got up and responded with "...and if I perish, I perish." (vs 16) She was willing to kill her flesh. (Literally.  According to the King's custom, she was willing to go before the king, unsummoned, which could cause her to be beheaded.)

But the foundation of that statement lies in the WILLINGNESS TO BE SELFLESS. She was willing to look beyond herself and put herself on the line for a greater cause. In response of recent news in the case of the Baltimore riots, and even in social settings talking about homeless people in Houston (because it is a very serious issue in the city) I have heard and even seen Christians post on social media things like

"God will take care of it."
"It's in His hands."
"God is bigger than this."
"Just pray."
"The world is going to be the world; so there is nothing we can do."

And while I believe those statements (in proper context) I also believe we say statements like this because they release
 us from the responsibility of being selfless.
Sometimes action makes us uncomfortable. Therefore we have to be willing to get uncomfortable & deal with people, sociological topics, issues in the world & government, to help people. This is not to say prayer does not work, but what is our faith without the fruit?

I challenge you because it challenged me. 
I don't think everyone needs to hold a sign and march in front of city hall because we are all prompted to different paths & strengths. But I do think you should NOT hinder those who are called to be activist & you should do something within YOUR talents & skills.

Whether it is organizing a peaceful protest or monetary donation along with a follow up.  Sitting in on a meeting in your community (or another’s) about education, taking the time out to reach out to a community you are not in, or volunteering, 


If you are a Christian that is NOT familiar with the culture, beliefs, or oppression of another group, it is okay to listen. It is okay to have a listening ear and say "May you explain it to me, because I don't understand."or
 don't understand that perspective. Can we talk about it sometime?"
This prevents impulsive, heated, hurtful conversations & it shows you care enough to meet needs like Jesus.

While this is not a guilt trip, this is a challenge.
I challenge you to get uncomfortable.
I challenge you to listen more than you speak.

I challenge you to die to self and perish.
Felicia Woodard is a professional dancer from Houston, currently  pursuing an M.A. in Cross Cultural Studies at University of Houston Clear Lake. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Interfaith Houston. 

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