How can we be people who intervene on behalf of the poor? I started thinking about this idea by way of this verse in Isaiah:
“He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene…”
Though the context of this verse is God sending Jesus as the redeemer who intervenes and ends evil, it made me think about the Christian call to love and service, to intervene, on behalf of the poor. How can we become advocates? People willing, capable and ready to appear on the side of the marginalized and poor, and on the behalf of those that become a prey to others?
Readying to intervene
I believe that cultivating three practices – understanding, prayer and being present – will prepare us to be people who intervene.
We must be people willing to ask the tough questions. What are the roots of the poverty we see? How am I perpetuating these issues through my own fears, stereotypes or assumptions? What more do I need to know in order to intervene in a just and biblical way? Taking the time to learn, read and study is significant in order to become a person who advocates on their behalf.
Secondly, Have you spent enough time with the poor in deep relationship to understand their needs? Relationship is a key to understanding. As we begin to invest our time into knowing the person in poverty we will slowly become more aware of their true needs. Creating deep trustworthy relationships with the poor allows one to listen, grow and learn first hand about their challenges and needs.
We must be willing to be people of prayer. True life transformation does not happen apart from God. Pray for the people you are befriending and serving. Pray for their struggles, addictions and freedom. Pray for God’s breakthrough in their life and for release from the bondages they may feel.
Also pray personally for an open mind, new perspectives and clear discernment, to learn and be readily available to listen and love. How might God be calling you to be their advocate? Intervening necessitates prayer.
3. Be Present
As Christians we need to be present in the lives of the poor. Visiting, calling, writing, whatever it takes to deepen our relationship and show the value their life has. They are well worth the time it takes to listen and they need to know that.
The more we are available to encourage, support and listen to the needs of the vulnerable (being present) the more opportunity we have to advocate on their behalf.
Intervening on behalf of the poor requires effort and intentionality. After all relationships are developed over time, and time is just what it might take in order to intervene as God has called.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”