Community Action Led by Prayer

Community Action Led By Prayer

Daily News Local Voices – Tony P. Hall

July 1, 2019

The Miami Valley has taken it on the chin lately.  

We’ve endured a KKK rally, 15 devastating tornados, groceries stores closing, farmers unable to plant crops because of constant rain, and more. In the last few years, we have been listed as the FOURTH hungriest city in the nation and noted for having one of the highest opioid deaths rates in the nation. Our community continues to suffer from high infant mortality, loss of good paying jobs, the biggest food desert in the state, and more.

Dayton is a resilient community and has shown incredible strength in continuing to face crisis after crisis. There has been strong community support for the Gem City Market, thousands rallied to oppose the KKK and countless volunteers are pitching in to aid residents impacted by the tornadoes.  However, at some point we need to ask “Why does this keep happening here? Is God testing us?”

If this is a test, there’s only one answer: Prayer.  We need to pray as individuals, as families and as a community for the strength and guidance to overcome the obstacles we face.  

Prayer is a time-tested response to the most difficult times and one that spans various faiths. Harriet Tubman, as she led her dangerous efforts to help slaves escape asked for God’s help, “I’m going to hold steady on You, and You’ve got to see me through.”

During the Holocaust, Jews in concentration camps prayed for guidance, including this prayer "I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God even when He is silent." 

The Quran also reminds us to pray in times of trouble - “Call me! I will answer” (Quran 40:60) 

Prayer unites us, prayer gives us a focus on a higher calling than ourselves and prayer starts the conversations which can lead to new strength and answers.  

I know that prayer alone won’t bring rebuilt destroyed houses, end the drug epidemic, or open grocery stores in the food desert. Prayer needs to be the beginning of our response, not the end.

I understand that people will say, “I don’t want to hear about your faith, I want to see it.” So I’m asking people of faith to join me in combining prayer and action to guide our actions, sustain our resiliency and rebuild our community. 

Many of our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques already contribute volunteers and money, doing amazing work. Now, it’s the time to really challenge ourselves and prayerfully ask – what more can we do?

Each person, each faith community, must find their own answers but there are plenty of paths to choose. There are opportunities for education, advocacy, volunteering and financial support. Information on ways to help can always be found at our website – hallhunger.org

I’ll be meeting with faith leaders and exploring ways we can answer that challenge. Together, we will create new ways to live our faith by serving our neighbors. 

It’s a mission I believe in deeply. I had the opportunity to work with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and witness her compassion. I watched her care for people literally dying alone on the streets. She told me “Congressman, not everyone can come to Calcutta like you. I want you to go back and tell everyone to do the thing that is in front of you.” 

Too many of our neighbors are hurting. It’s time for people of faith come together in both prayer and action to do what’s in front of us – create a healthy, thriving community for everyone. 

 

Tony Hall is the founder of the Hall Hunger Initiative, a local food justice project funded by the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation, in partnership with United Way of Greater Dayton.

Contact: Hallhunger.org 

Mark Willis: 937 225-3056

Markw.hhi@dayton-unitedway.org

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