Bringing our renewal into the world

March 19, 2017

By Rebecca Linder Blachly

“Speak out for those who cannot speak,
     for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously,
     defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31: 8-9)

In the midst of these 40 days of Lent, many of us turn inward: we seek to deepen our practices of contemplative prayer, to reinvigorate our worship, and to read and to meditate on God’s holy Word. Indeed, we are all called to renew our repentance and our faith; we ask for this when we pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with me.” (Psalm 51:11)

For those of us who also understand our ministry to include public witness, what particular meaning does this season of fasting and penitence have for us? How can we – and how should we – integrate our fasting and self-discipline into the work we feel called to do in the world?

The seemingly outward-facing work of public witness does not have to be separate from the inward work of quiet prayer and self-examination. In repentance, we examine our hearts and our consciences in the hopes that we can move forward transformed and renewed. Our advocacy begins from that place of repentance, forgiveness, and renewal, and from there, we go out into the world, transformed and transforming, calling our society to care for the hungry, the sick, and the prisoners. We sustain ourselves in and through our inward work. Ephesians 6:2 tells us that, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

We come to this work with humility – knowing that we live in a world that is redeemed through Christ and not through our own efforts. Advocacy at its best can address great systemic injustices: protecting society’s most vulnerable, responding to the call of the Prophets: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). We must strive for justice even as we know we live in a world that is aching and broken. We know that our faith must lie with God, and not in illusions about our own strength or power.

Advocacy is one way among many to answer the call to righteousness and love we find in scripture. We work alongside those who live out the gospel in their communities: feeding the homeless at soup kitchens, visiting the incarcerated and their families, and welcoming refugees to their communities. We are not in this work alone, and strive to serve as witnesses as we advocate for more just policies and laws, even as we recognize the complexity and variety of righteously-held views. We bear witness, knowing that the outcome is God’s kingdom.

Rebecca Linder Blachly is director of government relations for the Episcopal Church.

Advocacy is one way among many to answer the call to righteousness and love we find in scripture. 

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.