Open your mouth for the people who cannot speak,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
and defend the rights of the poor and needy.
These verses from Proverbs 31 place a big responsibility on us. Line after line is phrased in the imperative -- each a command from God to his people about how to interact with the world on behalf of those with unmet needs: the poor, the needy, the people who cannot speak. The Bible tells us life and death are in the power of the tongue, that God created everything in existence by speaking it into existence, and that the tongue is one of the hardest things in the world to tame. God has assigned such incredible power to our voices, and standing by while the world silences the “least of these” is a grave injustice to the image of God that he placed in them.
God has given us an important and special assignment -- to be the salt of the earth, the means of preservation he has placed in the world to save it from decay and to try to preserve some of the freshness and goodness of his Creation. Proverbs tells us how we can fulfill this assignment as his mouthpieces of justice is an unjust world, not just knowing of those in need, but deeply caring about their struggles, listening to their voices, and internalizing their cries. It takes intention to hear and internalize their cries, and it takes intention to confidently use our voices and whatever power they’ve been assigned to carry the needs and stories of those who aren’t being heard to those who can render justice.
Who are these ones close to God’s heart that he is imploring us to speak up for? The “unfortunate” are any people being treated as less than an image-bearers of the living God. When it comes to wars and genocide continents away, these ideas about using our voices can become abstract. But when it comes to our refugee neighbors -- persecuted people in a new country seeking fair living conditions, fair wages, and fair treatment for them and their children -- our role becomes concrete. Our voices stand in the gap for parents whose children aren’t being treated fairly in the classroom. Our voices demand explanations from customer service representatives for unexpected charges and unreasonably high bills. Our voices push for appointments to be prioritized and services to be rendered when the system is dragging its feet. We cannot underestimate the value to our refugee friends of a confident English-speaking voice that is on their side and for their benefit.
Fulfilling these verses starts with a friendship. It starts with knowing the personal needs of someone who can’t make their needs known on their own. It starts with using our knowledge of this country to gain more knowledge about how things work and leverage that to the good of those who seek refuge here.
At GoTEN, we specialize in fostering these friendships, and it’s our joy to help you start them as well. If you or someone you know wants to get involved in this type of advocacy, take the first step by attending a GoTEN Discovery Day. The Discovery Day is a one-day event designed to educate through experience to help the Church know how, when, and where to serve.