The other week, my colleague Amanda shared with you five big reasons to meet with your member of Congress this summer about global poverty. You might be wondering: What will this meeting with my member of Congress look like? What will they say to me, and what will I need to say to them?
Every advocate meeting looks a little different and works a little different. These four stories from advocates who recently met with their members of Congress show how unique, inspiring, and effective each visit can be – no matter who it is with, how it starts, or the types of conversations that may happen.
Where will your meeting take you?
Beyond the Usual:
Use creativity to amplify your message
In North Carolina, advocates prepared diligently for their meeting with their local congresswoman. They researched her voting record and background, created an agenda with the World Vision Advocacy team, and printed off handouts to leave behind. But their preparation went a step further – noticing that the congresswoman was on the Agriculture Committee, they brought along some creative pieces to inspire the office: freshly baked bread and a pot of wheat grass adorned with the quote, “If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.” – Norman Borlaug. The staff was very touched by this kind gesture – and you can bet that the visuals became a great reminder of their request to protect funding for hunger and nutrition programs!
To a Place of Fellowship:
Connect personally to build a trusted relationship
Jon, a pastor from Oklahoma, had the opportunity to meet with his member of Congress in a casual, social setting: over lunch! Jon learned about the congressman’s family, hobbies and interests, and even his faith life. By getting to know his congressman as a person first, Jon built a deeper connection with him, laying a strong foundation for future engagement. While meeting with your member of Congress over lunch may be rare, there are plenty of ways to connect with them on a personal level during your conversation. Jon even invited the congressman to attend his church for an upcoming event on humanitarian assistance!
Into a Brave Conversation:
Engage different viewpoints with prayer and respectful dialogue
After a positive meeting with one of their senators, Meagan and Tracy were excited to talk to their House member about global poverty. The meeting started off well, but it soon became clear that the congressmen didn’t value U.S. foreign assistance programs in the same way that Meagan and Tracy did, and the dialogue was cut short. Although initially discouraged by this response, Meagan and Tracy recognized that the congressman’s heart for the issues left an open door for continued engagement with him. Although they knew that additional meetings with the congressman would include tough conversations, Meagan and Tracy knew they still had open doors and resolved to continue building their relationship with his office, through additional prayer, follow-up, and persistence – all avenues that have the potential to bring the Congressman and his staff to a place of deeper understanding around issues affecting the poor.
Down the Long Road (in a good way!):
Reap the reward of kindness and persistence
For several years, Cathy and a group of women from Texas built a relationship with their congressman through meetings, phone calls, emails, and inviting his office to participate in church events. Because of their thoughtful engagement over time, they developed a truly reciprocal relationship with the office. Just this spring, the congressman’s staff called the advocates to offer them a meeting with the congressman when he was in town! Kind, respectful, and encouraging interactions with the office led to a true relationship that their congressman trusts, which will pay off in a big way for the kids we advocate for around the world.
Hearing these stories from advocates really brings it home for me – every advocate has a unique experience, every experience matters, and each has the power to be successful! Are you ready to share your heart for people experiencing poverty with your members of Congress in your own unique way?
Sign up using the form below, and Amanda and I will be in touch to support you every step of the way!
Photo: Randy Tift, Rich Stearns, Joel Johnson (orange tie), Jeff Moes (blue tie) and Mike Ayres (red tie, glasses) meet with Congressman Erik Paulsen in his office and outside of the House floor in the United States Capitol during the World Vision Pastor and Influencer Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. Wednesday February 1, 2017. © 2017 World Vision/ photo by Garrett Hubbard