When Debbie Chaves showed up to her first precinct caucus with her husband, there were five people in attendance. Total. Held in a grade school classroom with a tiny American flag in the back, the meeting didn’t feel very patriotic. And yet, as Debbie soon realized, these five people held the power to select the delegates who would represent the voices of thousands.
Moreover, Debbie quickly realized that two of the five people at the caucus that night didn’t even want to be there. So when she and her husband were elected as the two precinct delegates to represent their party at the county level, it was just one more unexpected twist.
Debbie had no intention of getting involved in what she saw as the messy world of politics. After all, she was a Colorado stay-at-home mom who spent much of her time home-schooling her children. It was actually through her kids’ schoolwork that Debbie first learned about America’s Judeo-Christian foundations.
“I honestly did not know that we had a nation that was founded on godly principles,” she says.
The more Debbie learned, the more she recognized how far the country had fallen from those initial ideals. No longer satisfied with simply gathering information, Debbie wanted to do something. She wanted to help turn the country around somehow, but what could a busy mom with no political experience really do?
After becoming a precinct delegate,
Debbie continued to get more involved in her political party. She began helping pastors around Colorado equip their congregants to effectively participate in the political process. She spent hours vetting various candidates, all on a volunteer basis.
“I learned by trial and error,” Debbie says. “I took baby steps, but God met me at every one.”
Her work soon had others taking notice. Debbie received a call from a Focus on the Family-affiliated organization dedicated to promoting pro-family legislation. The organization, known as the Family Policy Alliance, accomplishes this by working with a network of about 40 state-level organizations, known as Family Policy Councils (FPCs).
Debbie came on board with the Colorado affiliate, and since 2014 has served as the executive director of Colorado Family Action. And it all began with a busy home-schooling mom’s simple prayer for a platform to influence culture and policy.
“This is our responsibility,” she says. “That’s what a government of the people, by the people, for the people is. It’s us. We tend to cast a vote and think our job is done. That’s actually when our job begins.”
Called to be a light
Like Debbie, Eva Andrade never really followed politics. And like Debbie, Eva was a busy mom who felt compelled to make a difference in her community. One motivating factor was Scripture—James 1:27 in particular: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless
is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (NIV).
One of the ways Christians can fulfill that instruction to care for others is through activism and political engagement. Whether championing the sanctity of human life, fighting for religious freedom or highlighting how the shifting views of sexuality
impact education and public life, ordinary citizens are learning to speak up and get involved.
Eva realized the impact that bad laws can have upon society—particularly on preborn babies. And while some Christians argue that politics
should be left to others, since it seems too “worldly,” Eva disagrees.
“The Scriptures are very clear about Jesus’ constant reminder to go out into the world and to remember that we are part of a community,” she says. “The Lord calls us to go out into the community and be Christ’s light.”
Compelled to speak
As executive director of Cornerstone Action, New Hampshire’s FPC, Shannon McGinley wants to help everyday people engage with and impact their community. Shannon recounts the example of a young woman named Bethanee. A little
girl whom Bethanee knew was abused by her mother’s boyfriend and repeatedly sold for sex in a park right next to the New Hampshire state capitol.
Bethanee felt compelled to speak out, and through Cornerstone’s training, she learned how to testify before the state legislature. Bethanee appeared at a public hearing on a New Hampshire bill that would help prevent minors from being trafficked and provided dramatic testimony on the necessity of the legislation.
Thanks in part to Bethanee’s participation, the sex trafficking bill was passed.
Taking the first step
Not everyone has the time or ability to be a full-time activist, but everyone can help make a difference. The sheer number of ways to become politically engaged may seem overwhelming, but getting started is often the hardest part.
Even if you’re a hardworking stay-at-home mom, Shannon says, the first step is to become knowledgeable about what’s going on.
“Read the news while breastfeeding
or listen to podcasts while you’re folding laundry,” Shannon says. “There’s lots of multitasking that you can do while continuing to learn about political issues.”
Debbie, Eva and Shannon all began by simply getting involved in issues close to their hearts. Just imagine what hundreds of like-minded people working together could accomplish.
What Are Family Policy Councils?
Family Policy Councils (FPCs) are pro-family organizations that work to provide a Christian influence on their state governments. FPCs both endorse and oppose legislation. They educate voters, help shape public opinion, organize rallies and identify volunteers to testify before state legislative committees. Each of the Focus-affiliated FPCs is an ally of a national organization known as the Family Policy Alliance.
Tips on Taking Action
It’s easy to get so caught up in the busyness of life that there is little
time left over for any type of political
engagement. Here are three tips to help you get involved:
Stay informed. Learning the names and contact information of your state and national legislators is a great way to start holding your elected officials accountable.
You can stay up to date on the latest issues in our culture by visiting Focus on the Family’s The Daily Citizen website at TheDailyCitizen.org.
Get engaged. Family Policy Councils could use your help. Most states have an FPC; find yours by clicking on “Take Action” at FamilyPolicyAlliance.com. Even if you only have a couple of hours a week to volunteer, they could use your support.
Find your passion. God gives everyone different interests, and we are all called to be a light in our communities in different ways, says Eva Andrade, who leads the Hawaii Family Forum FPC.
“Find other moms who have the same concerns you do, and meet regularly to discuss the things that are affecting your kids,” she says. “Some of the biggest accomplishments have occurred when moms have met other moms, educated them and then stood together.”