The concerns and struggles of the poor may fall through the cracks of politics at large, but when you bring together 23 local schools, churches and organizations to demand change…well, you get a little more attention.

Four years ago, a group of concerned citizens began the Oklahoma Sponsoring Committee (now called Voices Organized in Civic Engagement, or VOICE) to advocate for the residents of Oklahoma City. They held dozens of small meetings in churches and public places to understand the concerns of the local people—the struggling local schools, an inadequate public transportation system, the lack of dignity afforded to undocumented immigrants and the lack of opportunities for people after getting out of prison.

And after four years, VOICE is a force to be reckoned with! I had the privilege of attending the VOICE founding convention with residents of the Mustard Seed community. We sat with nearly 1,200 Oklahoma City residents who came to support policy reform and listen to local candidates running for office respond to questions from the community.

How beautiful that 1,200 people—from different churches or no church at all—would come together to promote human dignity.

While it may seem taboo to mix politics and church, VOICE shows us that when public policy affects the lives and dignity of the poor, it becomes a Jesus issue. We don’t have to say, “vote for that person,” or, “register for this party,” but we definitely shouldn’t remain silent.

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Next Steps
    • Learn more about the work of Mustard Seed and their ideas about community development from their website.
    • What are the issues at your next local election? Where do the candidates stand? National politics get a lot of press, but your city councilmen and school board members play a large role in creating policy that affects you and your neighbors.
    • How is the bus system in your area? Try taking the bus to work one day. Is your city in need of a public transport upgrade?
    • Pray for the neighbors of Mustard Seed, Oklahoma City and the work of VOICE. May they continue to advocate for the underserved in their community.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Laura is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She graduated from the University of Arizona, Tucson with a degree in Animal Sciences and a minor in Spanish. She is constantly learning, making friends, dancing, and trying to understand her role in alleviating the suffering of others. Laura also attracts a lot of awkward situations.

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  1. dan short said... 


    February 24th, 2012 at 9:48 am  

    Laura,Thank you for sharing our stories and our lives the last few weeks. You are a real life missionary and evangelist! You captured so much of the truth of your subjects. Your words made our neighbors “real” for your readers! Come back and stay awhile when you’re nearby and when you have an open spot to fill tell the stories ofSherman and Velma and the Dominoes Guys! Safe travels keep finding Jesus and calling each of us Jesus Followers to serve Him right where we are planted.Poverty and injustice are just down the street, thanks World Next Door for turning us to act!

    • Barry Rodriguez said... 


      February 24th, 2012 at 11:03 am  

      Dan! Thank you so much for taking care of our Laura. :) I so wish I could have joined her to meet you all. I have heard nothing but good things about your work in your community. Keep it up!

    • Laura Stump said... 


      February 25th, 2012 at 5:18 pm  

      Thanks, Dan! It was my privilege to be with you and your neighbors. Don’t worry, Sherman’s wisdom and some other experiences will make their way into an article soon! :)

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