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Church elder speaks to U.S. Congress alongside actress Jennifer Garner

"All of my religious practices are worthless if I do not break the yoke of oppression," says Don Millican, speaking to House subcommittee about the importance of funding early childhood programs that help low-income families.

Don Millican, an elder of the Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa, Okla., traveled to Washington recently to speak on a congressional panel about the importance of early childhood programs.

Millican, chief financial officer of Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. and board member for Tulsa Educare, invoked the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah as he spoke on behalf of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Tulsa World reports

The Bible passage “tells me all of my religious practices are worthless if I do not break the yoke of oppression,” Millican told the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. “In my opinion, there is no greater yoke of oppression than that laid upon a child born in generational poverty — a child who did not choose the circumstances of his or her birth.”

Millican, outgoing chair of Oklahoma Christian University‘s Board of Trustees, talked about a grant program in Oklahoma for high-quality child care centers to help low-income families — funded by money from the state and private donations. He also discussed making grants for similar programs more competitive — and encouraged legislators to make more federal funds available to programs serving children from infancy to age 3.

Also on the panel was actress Jennifer Garner, known for her roles in the TV series “Alias” and films including “13 Going on 30.” Garner is a trustee for Save the Children.

Garner, who grew up in West Virginia, described herself as “one generation and one holler away from poverty.” 

“Poverty is silent,” Garner testified. “Go into those homes and listen for the sounds of adult conversation. There is none. Listen for children laughing or crying. Poverty is silent.”

Federal grants help Save the Children conduct home visits to teach mothers how to connect — read, talk, laugh and play — with their small children, Garner said. 

”A child who is not touched, spoken to or read to in his or her life will not fully recover. Neglect is every bit as harmful as abuse,” Garner said. “”I never look at these people and say ‘How could you.’ I say, ‘But there but for the grace of God go I.’”

Read the full story.

Filed under: Headlines - Secondary National

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