By John Kasich/JNS.org
I’ve had the wonderful privilege of meeting thousands of people from all different faith backgrounds out on the campaign trail. It’s been both a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.
At every event, I try to convey that I have a realistic plan to get people back to work and keep our country safe. But it’s even more important that I share this simple message: the Lord made you special and He has a plan for your life that’s bigger than you.
I’ve seen this truth lived out again and again in the Jewish community, and in this time around Passover, I’m reminded that God uses ordinary people to show mercy and justice to those who live in the shadows.
I recently visited Shema Kolainu, a school in Brooklyn where children know they’re cared about and respected. This unique school offers an environment that nurtures young Orthodox boys and girls who have autism and other special learning challenges.
The Jewish tradition, which brings such great strength to America, teaches from an early age to live life dedicated to helping others. You learn to be the hands and feet of a God who hears the cries of those who suffer like he heard the cries of His people when they suffered in Egypt. Passover commemorates when the Jewish people escaped slavery in Egypt and celebrates the exodus of God’s people to a life of freedom in the Promised Land.
In New York and in my home state of Ohio, I’ve met so many Jewish people who choose to live their lives in pursuit of helping the hungry, the poor, the sick, and other souls who are suffering.
As a Christian, I worship the same God who brought the Jewish people out of bondage. I worship the God who hears the cries of people who are hurting. The God who commands us help each other.
As governor of Ohio, I’m in a position where I can lead the state’s effort to prevent human trafficking and help victims rebuild their lives. We’ve been able to expand community-based treatment for the mentally ill and drug addicted. We’ve made sure that Ohio health insurance plans cover autism treatment.
In your own life, answering the cries of the hurting will look different than mine. Maybe you’re a nurse who spends a little extra time comforting a family who’s just received bad news. Maybe you’re a teacher who spends your own money to buy supplies for a student whose family can’t afford them. Maybe you’re a business executive who chooses to donate time and resources to the community rather than pocket extra profit. Whatever your situation, you have the opportunity to bless people in ways you may not even realize, and in doing so, fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
I left Shema Kolainu School with more than the beautiful artwork students made for me. I left with a deeper appreciation for the Jewish life, lived in community for a greater purpose. During Passover, there is no better way to celebrate the freedom that God brings than to offer up our talents for His purposes. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, God calls us to “set the oppressed free” and “loosen the cords of injustice.” I hope that as you commemorate Passover this week, you experience the love and grace of the God who brings freedom.
John Kasich is the governor of Ohio and a Republican candidate for president. This op-ed is first published online by JNS.org, before it runs in other media.