I think that most days we make it without having to rely on God to get us through the day, or so we think; we go about our days with our to do lists, and if you are like me its all in your head. April 12 gave me a whole new perspective of what it meant to walk in His strength….. A few months ago the alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta asked RJI to come and speak at their Spring Forum, I agreed to be the speaker. The two days before the forum I used every available moment (which don’t come often) to prepare; because I am not a stranger to speaking in front of people I wasn’t terribly nervous but I have to say I always get a little shaken up before I speak, so I needed to be sure I had everything mapped out. The nature of an all volunteer organization makes it impossible to pay the bills without another job, and mine happens to be working with small children, while they are sleeping I focus on RJI. That day we could not get the presentation to download to my computer, I found out that the location was moved and we would no longer have power point capabilities so I would have to completely change my approach, and the children didn’t sleep as long as I hoped they would so I was trying to figure all of this out while taking care of them….. I also had to figure out how to get to the other side of town during rush hour in less than 45 minutes….. It’s interesting that the deeper we all get into this issue of advocating for those that do not have a voice of their own the more we see the hand of God guiding us and opening doors we could have never imagined. In the midst of all the craziness and with the help of Anna Hurley I figured out the technological problems changed up my speaking approach and got there on time. On the way there I found myself asking God to be with me and to guide the presentation, because on top of everything else I wasn’t feeling well and I knew that I needed His strength to get me through. When I got there I learned that my fellow speakers were a Virginia senator, a judge, and the president of a well known advocacy organization on Virginia….. Needless to say I felt a little out of place, thankfully, I didn’t learn any of that until we were introduced so I didn’t really have time to let my nerves get the best of me. During the presentation I mentioned our core values: awareness, education, advocacy, prevention and prayer, I expounded on the ways that we are living them out in what we do at RJI. When I talked about the advocacy piece I mentioned the bills that we presented at our lobby day back in February and are waiting to be signed by the Governor, then I went on with each of the other values. After the presentation the senator who was sitting next to me leaned over and asked if those bills would put Virgina where we need to be as far as our laws against human trafficking; since I also mentioned that Virginia is one of the states in the country with the worst laws against slavery. I told him that they were a good start but they were not enough, and then I remembered that I earlier that day in the midst of all the commotion I printed the bills out and had them with me! ( I normally don’t do that because I try and do my part for the planet and all) I highlighted the bills and handed them to the senator and he asked if he could keep them, and I said yes sir! We had a time of question and answer that went really well, at the end of the forum the president of the chapter got up and said that she was shocked that this was an issue in our city. After the meeting was over the president of the well known advocacy center came up to me and said, “The senator and I would like to work with your organization.” He went on to tell me about some of the “small” issues that they took on and brought to light in the community, he also went on to tell me about the church connections that would be available to us because of their connections. It was a success! The more I reflected on this event the more I realized that it was not because I am this amazingly charismatic speaker (which I can assure you I am not) or because the information was terribly compelling, it was because we serve a God of justice that is committed to rescuing the weak and this is His fight not ours, it is His strength, power and vision that we depend on and that empowers us to “Love mercy, Do Justice and walk humbly with our God”.
-Lea Whitehurst, Church Partnership Coordinator