From Protest to Praise

It was the stuff of literature, the dramatic juxtaposition of striking contrasts.


I spent the morning at a ministry for children in one of the worst barrios in Bogotá. These children face horrors beyond what most of us would dare to dream exist in the world. All live in unimaginable squalor. They have little or no prospect for education or advancement. Many are the children of drug dealers and addicts. Others are the children of prostitutes—and have slept or played in the rooms where their mothers work. A majority have been abused sexually. Some have been used as child prostitutes, others offered to the landlord to pay the rent that (or every) month.


Coming home, I spent some time scanning the headlines, reading of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the men and women who make up its ranks. Thirty-somethings. Making tens of thousands of dollars a year. Filling us in with regular updates from their iPhones. Clothed. Sheltered. Filled. Protesting economic inequality.


There is inequality, to be sure, between the self-proclaimed 99% and the world’s wealthiest. But I suspect there is a far greater chasm between the protesters and the children I had the privilege to serve that morning.


Have they had to move in with their parents because of a shortage of funds? At least they haven’t had to share a room with their entire family, share a kitchen and bathroom with several other families, looked on as their mothers worked in the most degrading profession. Have they not found the employment they were hoping for when they graduated? At least they haven’t been forced into prostitution as children in order to pay the rent for the hovel they call home. Have they student loans that need paying? At least they had the privilege of education and a government that helps them finance it. That is inequality.


The debt we have—and most all of us have it, Christian or not—is a slavery of our own making. We could have gone through college without student loans, but we chose not to, because we preferred drinking and video games to the weariness of working and studying full time. We do not need the majority of the things we have, but we purchase them anyway, regardless of whether or not we can afford them.


We have sold ourselves into our slavery.


But these children were sold into theirs. With no choice and little possibility of redemption.


Perhaps the time has come to divert the hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of donations going to these protesters to those who truly need it—and who have not the privileges necessary to make their protest heard.


Perhaps the time has come to turn the protest into praise—gratitude for the many blessings of which we are manifestly unworthy.

5 Replies to “From Protest to Praise”

  1. Brandon, couth words my friend. Apropos and poignant. Moments of protest have a way of calling to the front what has been buried for a long time, if only but for briefly. We know the work with the poor will continue, as always. And we know that the richer than poor will probably have a bigger voice, as their lives have afforded as much, but all the same, I am glad to work alongside you for a time. The gap is deep and gragarious. Yes, the gap…some would say, “Mind the gap,” as you have so aptly called us to do. Thank you.

  2. This brings tears to my eyes. Our great nation is full of spoil brats who don’t even know what inequality is about. God help our country – to see the truly needy and reach out – to take our eyes off our stuff and look toward Heaven – to fall on our knees before Him.

  3. You need to understand what this protest is about before judging it so harshly, such as calling protesters “spoiled brats”. These people are standing up against something that is long past overdue. They are not just standing up for themselves but for all of us in America and there are other “occupations” popping up all over the world. Well over 350 as I speak.
    This becoming a WORLD WIDE movement against more than just not being able to live “high on the hog” with video games and whatnot. Our tax dollars, taken from us common folk, have been given to the rich corporations by our government, to “trickle down” back into our economy. It did not. It was stolen and hoarded. It is called a “ponzi” scheme and our very own president, the federal reserve (a private corporation), wall street, and several big banks were all in on it together. I have watched countless friends lose jobs and become homeless so the rich could get richer. I have invited them into my home, which is now very crowded. I know people who lost their homes through no wrongdoing of their own and now they are homeless, jobless, and living in tents. I witnessed “tent city” in Nevada. Full families living in tents scrounging for food and the basic necessities. Yes, there are horrible things that are going on in other countries but do you really have any idea what goes on right under your nose in the USA??? There is plenty of prostitution, “hovels”, and so forth as you have mentioned. These people are not just fighting for themselves. They are the ones that are brave enough to stand up and shout out for EVERYONE who has been ripped off by shady governments in the world. There is not just a “normal” class of protesters as you stated. Many ARE homeless and jobless. That is why they have the time to “occupy” these areas for us. Hard earned tax dollars have been taken by the rich to make them richer, in lieu of anyone’s well being, that isn’t an important government official, a Wall Street big wig, or corporations that pay no tax. In fact quite a few of these corporations pay NEGATIVE tax, which means that they do not contribute a thing, but they definitely take the monies from the middle class and yes, even the poor. We may not have a war torn country but our troops are all over the world risking their very lives for wars, that they do not believe in, just so the rich can get richer and they can have military housing, and the basic necessities for their families. Did you know that a soldier’s pay was recently reduced while government employees got raises, corporations got bonuses, and big banks got bailed out. This Wall Street “thing” is just the tip of the iceberg, as you are failing to see. This is not just a “protest”. This is a movement with occupations against the wrongdoings of some very evil, greedy, and power hungry individuals. If you think that what has happened to out country isn’t happening everywhere else, look again. These power hungry individuals don’t want to just own the United States. They want to own the world. And up until these “occupations” they were robbing everyone and everything they could from any one and any where without blinking an eye. It’s about time that their eyes start to blink and hopefully they happen to notice that THEY are being noticed by the masses. They have the money. The masses have the voice. I at once was able to contribute overseas to hungry children living in mud shacks. Now I do not have the money to do so, but I do have the time. Therefore I have done my homework and contribute my time as I am able. Please, do your research. There is a lot more to this than you are even coming close to seeing!

  4. @Matt – You attitude sickens me. Stop crying, get out of your “holier than thou” mode, and educate yourself on what this movement is all about and what is going on in the entire world. Don’t be a sheeple. If you think that what is happening is the USA doesn’t affect all third world countries than you don’t have a clue. The people that these “protesters” are trying to “take down” are evil, greedy, power hungry individuals that affect the economy of the ENTIRE world. They are ridiculously rich and give NONE to the poor. They are war mongering hateful beings that are the truly evil, that Christians need to stand up against! Do I pray for these greedy, war mongers? YES! They will be judged in the end and riches do not make a soul. For that, their ways truly sadden me, for they are lost. But, I know what it’s like to not have a home and sleep in the streets. I know what it’s like to go hungry. I even know what it was like when my baby was crying from hunger when I could not provide food, even in this “land of plenty”. Yes, a lot of people do not count their blessings, as they should or as YOU may, but who are YOU to judge??? You don’t know what these people have been through in their lives or what their going through now! Have you ever had to make a choice between medicine and food? Have you ever gone without shelter during a long cold winter? Only GOD knows who these people are and what their true intentions are. I believe most are fighting against tyranny, evil, and greed for a better future for our children and the world.
    These “protesters” are the brave souls who are willing to go out on the streets for the betterment of all human beings, not just themselves. How do I know? I work directly with a lot of the different occupation organizers and know their good intentions. They are full of love and human compassion. They are rightfully very concerned about the future of humanity if things keep going as they are. They have educated themselves, therefore they know the source of A LOT of wrongdoings against humanity and our mother earth. I am physically disabled and unable to walk the streets and shout out my voice against the evil and inhumane injustices of this world. This world is at a tipping point and will only eventually go in one direction and that is the fight of good against evil. Open up your eyes to the BIGGER picture. These occupations are just a tiny start of the plans to take down “the evil” in a non-violent way. Of course, in the end, when evil might be winning and all may seem lost, God will prevail. But in the meantime, these people are pouring their lives, hearts, and souls for the betterment YOU AND ME! ALL the people of the world. They are true heroes in this day and age. It seems to me that you, as the Christian you portray yourself to be, need to focus more on loving and less on judging. Leave that up to our Father. It is only for him to judge. All that happens, is meant to be. Take the self-righteousness, judgmental heart that you have and turn it around. If you really insist in judging these brave souls, why don’t you go and visit an occupation first. Ask questions. Educate yourself, before making snap judgements that make Christians look terrible. No one who is seeking the Lord would come to someone like you, for guidance, if they heard your ignorance and disdain for other fellow humans. Seriously, go to an occupation. (There should be one near you) Talk to these people. Have compassion and understanding. Now is not the time for comments like yours. Now is the time for someone like you to go out, into the real world, cure your ignorance and maybe you can turn these “heathens” (as I would imagine that you would call them) into Christians. Seize the moment. If your still not sure what to do, pray and ask him for your duty here on earth. (We all have one or more duties here – just ask our Father) But please, for the sake of mankind, educate yourself before making rash and stupid comments. Stop making Christians look bad. It’s already hard enough to turn people to our Father in this world that we live in. Don’t ever forget, “Don’t judge, lest ye be judged”. I say, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” You are my brother who obviously thinks that you are on the right path. Look again, my brother. Our Father calls out to me to tell you otherwise. Please talk to our Father soon!

  5. Hi Lori-

    I have considered the judgement you pronounced upon me (an unloving, uneducated, holier than thou sheep amidst other things.) I admit to being a full-on sinner, one redeemed solely through the grace of Christ. If you knew me, you’d know that and see many inconsistencies. But you would also know the other things God has done in my life, especially in the area of disability ministry-a subject you may know something about. I can only say I’ve tried to follow Christ as best I could. So judge away, good friend. I have no defense but the blood of Christ.

    Regarding Occupy and taking down “the evil,” I just can’t accept their greed and lust for other’s power and wealth regardless of the utopian intent. When Christ comes again, there will be equity and justice. But not until then. Occupy has turned increasingly to violence. Witness the Bank of America attack in Oakland, and the rapes in New York and interference with private property and liberties of others. Why? I leave you to answer that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *