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Dear President Trump:

Today’s Daily Lectionary readings are about presence.  In the Old Testament reading, God promises to be present with the prophet Jeremiah to deliver him when the people fight against him. (Jeremiah 1:19) God, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, is near to all who call on God in truth. (Psalm 121:4; 145:18) In the Epistle reading, Paul longs to be present with the church at Rome for mutual encouragement. (Romans 1:10-11) In the Gospel reading, Jesus accepts the invitation of an “enemy village” to be present with them for two days. The results are amazing. (John 4:39-42)

My letter yesterday included a quote from Pope Francis about the importance of being present with those who hold “diverse opinions in order to choose the best path.”


A Caritas Jordan worker welcomes a Syrian refugee child

Throughout these 40 days, I want to commend to you persons who have much wisdom to offer as you consider weighty domestic and international issues. I urge you to invite them to the White House for conversation and counsel.  In a previous letter, I encouraged you to meet with Dr. Gail Christopher and La June Montgomery Tabron, who are leading the Kellogg Foundation’s pioneering work in Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.

Today, I want to suggest several additional persons.  Bryan Stevenson is executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.  This Montgomery, Alabama-based organization “is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.” His book, Just Mercy, is a must read.

Hanna Edwar is Board Chair of Iraqi al-Amal Association – Arabic for “the hope.” She is a small woman with a big dream. I think of her as the Mother Teresa of Baghdad.  Al-Amal is one of the largest NGOs in Iraq, respected across a broad spectrum of ethnic and religious groups.  Their work seeks to combat all forms of violence and discrimination, and to promote a culture of human rights, gender equality, and social cohesion, while carrying out income-generating projects and peacebuilding trainings.

Being present with diverse voices who bring perspectives from grassroots communities will be a blessing to you and will help you “choose the best path.”


J. Daryl Byler