It is harder than I thought to work with the poor and disenfranchised. They have very little confidence in any system or institution and we, in our ministry with them, have to get things done through those very same systems and institutions.
When we have to report back to the folks and say that we have not found the right person to help us or were on hold for an hour before being told that some form or other still had to be filled out, and the person knows he/she completed it and mailed it in, the person just smiles and says, no problem; they pretty much figured that would happen. They just accept that the system hardly ever works for them.
Sometimes we pull out the “Sister” card when we have to deal with the system, and sometimes that merits a somewhat different response, but in the long run, a day of waiting in line, online or on the phone is the usual plan.
Being poor and voiceless usually leads to more anger, more sadness, more depression, more anxiety and less hope, less health, less peace.
But you know what these folks do say they have? Faith. Faith in all things human, not so much; but faith in the one who made them, ALL THE TIME! In response to “How are you today?” the answer might be “I am blessed” or “Every day above the ground is a good day.”. Most of us, would answer, “ I’m OK” or “Not so bad”. Faith is their bridge over the troubled waters they may experience. Go visit a Baptist church service some Sunday morning and see if you do not leave feeling like a very blessed sinner who has the immense power to change every day.
I know we have all experienced hard times on some level, but to live that way every day is hard to imagine. To work with the poor is to learn a lot about Faith and to grow stronger because of it.