Poverty here is different then in the US. It is more visible, harder to be oblivious of. From the cartoneros who dig through garbage bins looking for things they can sell to recycling companies to the people selling trinkets on the bus, hoping to make enough money to feed their families, poverty is a part of everyday life.
The church has responded by integrating thoughts about and responses to poverty into every aspect of church life. From the songs that we sing in worship, to the prayers kids sing before meals, to kids at camp talking about who there brother or sister is and how they are going to take care of them.
This really stuck out to me when I was recently at a camp for young adults from the IELU (the partner church). The theme of the week was “Where is your brother/sister?” We had small groups where we discussed the Bible passage of the day. But instead of just discussing the themes we found, we were challenged to find real life situations where similar injustices were occurring and actions that we could take to help right the wrongs. Right in the middle of Bible studies we were talking about current social issues and how we as Christians should get involved in them! I loved it! But social justice wasn’t just being discussed in Bible studies, it was a part of all kinds of things. There were worship songs about serving the poor. The prayers that we sung before meals talked about remembering those who lacked food and those who had too much. And during closing worship everyone was invited to share publicly something that they were committing to do in order to better love their neighbor.
For me this is how we as Christians need to live. With social action a part of every aspect of our lives. For me it isn’t enough to say a prayer in church and to have a feeding or neighborhood outreach program. When I look around me and see the suffering and the injustices that are perpetrated, I need more. As Christians and the church as a whole how better can we love God and serve our neighbors then by fighting the injustices that are too common all around us.
One of the verses from a song we sang at camp sums it up pretty well for me:
Amar es ser siervo del que sufre la pobreza, el hambre y la ignorancia; Es luchar junto a Él por liberarnos y llenar el futuro de esperanzas.
Así como tú Señor, así como tu nos amas, y liberas, así queremos amar.
To love is to be a slave/servant to those who suffer from poverty, hunger, and ignorance. It is to fight together with Him to liberate us and to fill the future with hope.
Like you God, how you love us, and liberate us, this is how we want to love