By Sarah Miller – Horizon News and Features Editor
Hesston College students participated in a national movement addressing issues of racial injustice, poverty, militarism, and ecological trauma.
Michele Hershberger, Bible professor at Hesston College, organized a trip for students to attend one of the revival meetings in Topeka, KS.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, will lead additional rallies fighting injustices with powerful speeches and a call to action for all listeners.
This revival, which started in early August, will travel around to 15 different states to spread the vital message of conflict in our country today. More detailed topics include income inequality, politicians’ behavior towards the poor, and stealing from the poor to help the rich.
Hershberger says she was inspired by Barber’s call to care for other people, despite the hatred and cruelty of so many people.
“Barber is trying to fight systemic oppression and poverty for some of the very people who call him bad names. I was overwhelmed by the emphasis on being peaceful and seeking justice for all people,” Hershberger says.
Joy Driver, a sophomore, attended one of the many revivals with Hershberger and other students.
“This event motivates and encourages citizens to consider how people of lower classes are being treated,” Driver reflected. “They talked about environmental concerns because people of lower economic status live next to plants that contaminate their water, causing…other health concerns.”
Barber wanted this revival to be a way to unite our country, make the audience more aware of social issues, and encourage them to find more information and discover more ways to help.
Theoharis said once they have fallen into the low-income category, our country’s policies make it next to impossible for people to climb out.
Students who attended this campaign came back with varying reactions to the speakers’ message.
“Because I am still forming how I think it is best to interact on a national level with my country, I think one of the ways I was motivated most was to pursue more knowledge on these issues,” Driver says.
Driver sees change coming from group effort towards a better future and common good.
“Our country needs to accept all ages, all genders, all races, or we will continue to have conflict and pain,” Elizabeth Eichelberger, a sophomore, said. “We all come from different places, look different, act different, have different sexual orientations, but that does not make one person better than the other.”
So what’s next for people looking to continue this revival? Hershberger said plans have already been made in May and June of 2018 to have 40 days of non-violent resistance to raise awareness of the injustice in our country.
This national tour stems from the vision and unfinished work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s own Poor People’s Campaign in the late 1960s that called for a revolution of values in America. The “triplets of evil”–systemic racism, poverty, and militarism–continue to divide our society when we should stand together against such injustices.
While hearing about the mistreatment of the people in our country made some uncomfortable, it also prompted some to question their place as a person of faith.
Driver is one of them.
“I reflected heavily on what my role as a Christian is in this situation. To love and help all people. To be a servant to the least of these.”