There were 22 of us the other night gathered in the upper room of a church. Many of us had never met before. A common desire for justice and action drew us together. There were teenagers, young professionals, and mothers with babies. We were there for a training to get out the vote in the coming elections. The majority of people in the room are not eligible to vote themselves.
Some are immigrants, some are not of voting age. Yet they came with an understanding that they can participate in our system by motivating others to vote. They came to learn how their voices can be heard.
I arrived a bit late and slid into a seat next to a young man with bling in his pierced ears. At the break I asked him why he was there. He said he started volunteering at his church to get some community service hours for his graduation requirement. He is a junior at a local high school. Then he heard about the Get Out the Vote campaign. He felt motivated to get others involved in helping. He said he’d like to see others involved like his parents so they can do something and not just work all the time. I liked his sense of purpose and vision. Even a vague vision, “do something,” is motivating, a first step from where we are to where we could be.
So we were there to learn about the “something” we can do. We learned that 52% of the population of our city is Anglo while 36% of the population has Spanish surnames. However, only 15% of the registered voters in our city have Spanish surnames. We decided that we would like to close that gap as much as possible so that everyone who is eligible to vote would vote. We set big goals. There were 22 of us there and we have about 115 volunteer shifts to cover. We discussed volunteering in evenings and on weekends. No one seemed overwhelmed or deterred. I felt more motivated and my mind raced with ideas as we planned together. I was glad that I had showed up.
One morning after this meeting, my Bible study landed me in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. One of his teachings is: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” As I reflected on this teaching I thought of the group that had gathered that night. Meek isn’t a word we use much anymore but it seemed to describe this group- humble, modest, willing to endure patiently. It was not a weak group by any means, but unassuming and willing to put in the work. I think of all the groups that must be meeting this time of year making plans around the election, discussing wide-ranging political issues. I thought of the money, energy, and power that go into planning the political parties’ national conventions. We are a small group without much money or power, but we are dedicated to the tasks before us. We are meek, and perhaps if we maintain this posture, the words of Jesus will become true and we will inherit the earth, or at least representation in the city.
Crissy Brooks is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Mika Community Development Corporation in Costa Mesa, California. Mika works with neighbors and church partners through neighborhood organizing and youth development, with the desire is to see their community reflect the justice and mercy of God’s Kingdom. She is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University and serves on the board of the Christian Community Development Association.
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