Celebrate Hope: Looking Back Stepping Up


 Daring to Hope

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. - Luke 4:18

During my senior year of college, I participated in a service-learning trip to Ghana, West Africa. I visited and toured the Cape Coast Slave Castle, one of the key forts the Transatlantic Slave Trade facilitated for kidnapping, selling, and abusing many millions of Africans. Millions perished. One exhibit, Portraits of the Middle Passage, showcased sculptures reimagining slavery’s victims. I looked at my Black people’s traumatized faces and felt sick about the pain experienced within those prisons, aboard ships, and in foreigners’ hands. But I also know the enslaved dared to imagine a better future for their descendants, resisted oppression, and pursued freedom. My freedom.

Jesus Christ, who denounced corrupt religious, economic, and sociopolitical systems, including slavery—proclaiming the good news—pursued all people’s freedom in this world. He sacrificed His life so that we can be set free spiritually—eternally. Jesus declared God’s demands for justice, love, and righteousness as He repeated Isaiah’s prophecy (Luke 4:14–19). Standing in the synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus determined to “set the oppressed free” (v. 1). 

The gospel calls us to imagine and to press for freedom with both strong teaching and sacrificial acts of love. We love our God and our neighbor fully when we raise our voices, too, against oppression and proclaim God’s favor on all people. God has carried and will carry us through. —Kayla Jones

How does Jesus’ mission to release captives, give sight to the blind, and liberate the oppressed change our perspective of the gospel and the hope He brings?

Heavenly Father, we praise You for the faith, imagination, and resiliency of our ancestors. Thank You for being the God of deliverance. We will march, resist, sing, pray, and press on for our children's futures. We believe You respond to injustice and know You have the power to heal, save, and deliver.