Jim Wallis of Sojourners community and magazine visited the Collegium last week and reflected with a group of about 30 community members. He took time out of a busy book tour to visit Vista Hermosa Foundation, the Center for Sharing, and Jubilee Foundation,all of which are long time friends and partners. In a wide-ranging conversation, Jim reflected on the seemingly hopeless times we find ourselves in—evoking images of children separated from their parents and put in cages, black men dying at the hands of police, gun violence and mass shootings, and increasing political polarization. He encouraged the group to respond by reclaiming Jesus from all of these anti-Christ trends in our world today, remembering Jesus’ mandate that “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 31-46). Jim remarked that “the crisis of faith and politics presents an opportunity to go deeper”—deeper into relationships across such divides as race, gender, and class, and with the most marginalized in our communities and the world.
Jim recognized that Vista Hermosa and the other entities have been doing this very work for years, and encouraged us all to continue these vital endeavors. The lively conversation provided an inspiring opportunity for many to rekindle a spirit of community and hope.
A couple of days later, I found myself in a meeting in Los Angeles with pastors and others in the local Presbyterian church as part of my committee service with the Self Development of Peoples program. A pastor spoke at length of the ongoing efforts of Matthew 25 SoCal, Sojourners initiative begun after the 2016 election to organize the faith community to protect the vulnerable. She said that Matthew 25’s young Latinx evangelical leadership has energized the movement for social justice, and has united the usually divided mainstream and evangelical church communities. They have organized campaigns to free asylum seeking pastors from detention and a trip to the border to witness the conditions. They equip churches to become sanctuaries for immigrants, and they meet on a weekly basis to pray and share information.
This Jesus-focused ministry serves as a concrete effort to reach across the divides that Jim referred to in his conversation with us, and serves as a real beacon of hope. You can purchase Jim’s book Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus here.