Monday, January 31, 2011

What inspires you to seek justice?

   The four of us who are privileged to work at Workers Interfaith Network all share something in common. And it's something that I bet we share in common with you: a passion for seeking justice.

   As I've gotten to know my co-workers better over the years, I've been continually inspired by their stories of what brings them to this work. What makes them get up every day and do the difficult work of organizing?

  Then I thought, why haven't I shared these stories with you? I hope they will inspire you to continue devoting yourself to the work of justice. And perhaps they will inspire you to share your own story!

   So today, I'll start by sharing some of James Luvene's story. James has worked part-time at WIN since 2005, building relationships with congregations and fundraising. He became connected with WIN while completing his Master of Divinity degree at Memphis Theological Seminary, where's he now completing his Doctorate of Ministry.

   What inspires James to seek justice? James tell this story best himself in the video below. His mother and father's experiences as custodial workers still have a profound impact on him today. When he shared this story about his mother's brave act on the day of Dr. King's assassination, I knew more people needed to hear it:

  What James forgot to mention is that his parents had 13 children to support when she quit her job.
  Faith and social justice: A United Methodist, James points to his church's strong statements for justice in its Social Principles. "For me, I really believe deep in my heart that it's almost impossible for me to say I'm a Christian and not be involved in social justice. It's what Jesus lived out every day; it's what Jesus taught every day, and it's what the Bible teaches," says James.

   The impact you make as a WIN member: When I asked James what the most important experience he's had on the WIN staff, he pointed back to an article that ran in The Commercial Appeal after your hard fight to win a living wage ordinance with the City of Memphis. The article featured a City worker who received a raise because of the living wage ordinance. She shared that she would now be able to buy her children's back to school clothes because of her raise. "That's what this work is all about," James says. "Making sure people who are working every day are treated with dignity in their work."

   James' dream for WIN: James is concerned about the growing emphasis on the prosperity gospel in many churches today. "As an African-American, I'm very concerned that there seems to be this pulling away from the works of justice," James says. "One of my dreams is for WIN to help the majority of churches in Memphis re-connect with their calling to the work of justice. We need to remember that Dr. King died in Memphis. But we also need to remember why he was in Memphis: to stand up with the sanitation workers."

   Share your story: So now you know a little of the journey that brings James to organize with you at Workers Interfaith Network. I want to hear your story too! Tell us what beliefs, people, and experiences inspire you to seek justice. Just share in the comments section below, or post on the WIN Facebook page.

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