Every Sunday morning before and after worship, scores of children trickle into my office to greet and hug me. For a long time, I thought that I possessed some type of "It" factor which made me popular with children and young folk, until an observant and spiritually wise First Lady deflated what is the bane of many preachers - my ego. She said to me "These children are hungry." They had been walking out with goodies on my desk and which I keep around. I did notice that I had to replenish quite frequently.
A growing number of those coming into the church are women. This is no surprise, however the overwhelming number are those who are unmarried, have children, and are living at or below the poverty line. There are disturbing trends in child poverty and extreme child poverty. One in three black children are poor and one in six is in extreme poverty. Poverty increased to reach 3.8 million black children and extreme poverty increased to reach 1.8 million in 2006. At my church, we have instituted several programs which provide food in addition to other program goals. We also provide food and childcare to children whose mothers come to ministry meetings and other church-related functions. None of the food has gone to waste. In addition, our mentoring sessions reveal growing incidences of stress-related illnesses and many other traumatic consequences experienced by women who are trying to navigate poverty.
In the chapter 21 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus caused a tree that produced marvelous foliage but lacked fruit to wither because it was useless. Likewise any institution, including the church, governmental administration, leader, or organization - regardless of ornamentation - that does not satisfy the hunger of the times (physical or spiritual), is useless and will eventually fade into insignificance. The question that needs to be asked, particularly of our presidential candidates in this perilous economy, is what have you done to satisfy the hunger of children and their mothers?
Please look at the scorecard that reveals the voting records of the presidential candidates in order to see who is working for children and who isn't. Obama has worked for children 85% versus McCain, who is one of the worst advocates in the entire congress.
In addition, we need politicians whose policy priorities include closing the gender gap by supporting increased funding in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund, family planning, child care and head start, nutrition programs, unemployment compensation benefits which because of out-dated eligibility rules disproportionately disqualify women, paid sick leave legislation, and restoration of rights to challenge pay discrimination.
"You shall know them by their fruits."