“Justice for the Oppressed and Food to the Hungry”
Psalm 146:5-10 – “Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free. the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!” -NRSV
After devastating the Bahamas, hurricane Dorian made landfall in North Carolina bringing around twenty tornadoes and severe flooding. Ocracoke Island was the most severely affected area in the state. News sources reported that Ocracoke residents, who have dealt with hurricanes and storms throughout their lifetime, were surprised by Dorian’s intensity. The unexpected level of flooding left hundreds of people trapped and in need of rescue. Many of us can relate to the situation that Ocracoke residents faced when Dorian flooded the isle. Even though the majority of us have never experienced a hurricane in the places where we live, we have faced other types of storms throughout our lifetime. Despite having dealt with problems and situations of crisis throughout our lifetime, there are some that take us by surprise. When the storms of life surprise us we end up stranded facing the devastation in their aftermath. We find ourselves in need of rescue. It is in such times that we cry out for help. It is then when those of us who have the privilege of faith pray for God to intervene on our behalf. It is then when we cry out for the help of the God that psalm 146 describes. A God who is faithful, who executes justice for the oppressed, who feeds the hungry, who sets prisoners free, who lifts up those who are bowed down, who loves the righteous, who watches over strangers, who upholds the orphan and the widow, and who brings the way of the wicked to ruin. That is the God who is moved to compassion when we cry out for help. That is the God extends God’s mighty, merciful, and loving hand to intervene on our behalf. At times, God’s intervention is supernatural in nature. More often, however, God’s intervention comes through the compassion that God’s Spirit inspires within those around us. It is through the compassion of those who are inspired by God to provide much needed support that God’s hand comes to our aid after facing devastating and unexpected storms. Just like it is with it is with hurricanes, the life storms that we face can be truly painful and devastating for those most vulnerable.
It is estimated that approximately twenty percent of Ocracoke’s population is Hispanic/Latinx. This twenty percent of Ocracoke’s population had been dealing with a devastating life storm since 2016. It was a sociopolitical storm that had the Hispanic/Latinx population in its center. A sociopolitical storm whose bands of rain and strong winds had led to the separation of thousands of families through the enactment of inhumane immigration policies. Because of that sociopolitical storm, Hispanic/Latinx Ocracoke residents, as well as Hispanic/Latinx residents of other North Carolina regions affected by hurricane Dorian had to deal with the effects of the storm differently than their fellow residents who are not members of immigrant households. The sociopolitical storm facing immigrant communities in North Carolina prevented families from going to proper shelters and humanitarian aid centers due to the fear of potential Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, as well as to the fear of being placed lists of records which could potentially jeopardize their status. Hunger and oppression were a reality facing the Hispanic/Latinx population in North Carolina in the wake and aftermath of hurricane Dorian. Many prayers were lifted to ask for the intervention of the God who executes justice for the oppressed and who gives food to the hungry. God has answered those prayers in diverse ways. God will continue to answer them. You, hermana y hermano, can be answer to those prayers.
If you have not done so already, please take a moment to respond and be an answer to prayer in the following ways:
- Give to NC Storm Response. 100% of your gift goes toward NC response.
- Collect children’s books to restock school libraries, hold a school supply or school uniform drive, donate musical instruments to schools, or collect first-aid kits for classrooms. Contact Jaye White to find out where to send the collected resources.
- Make UMCOR hygiene kits. Deliver them to MERCI in Goldsboro, NC.
Prayer: God of compassion, we lift up our hearts to you. We pray with those who have suffered and continue to deal with the devastation of hurricane Dorian, not only in North Carolina, and other regions in the United States, but also in the Caribbean. We pray with those who are facing and dealing with the aftermath of life storms that have brought devastation to families and communities. We especially pray with those experiencing vulnerable situations when facing both types of storms. Inspire and empower us to be living answers to those prayers. Amen.
Edgar A. Vergara Millán