• JB's Final Thoughts

    Posted by John

    22 December, 2014

    After 10 years of helping Christians and churches hold governments around the world to account for their promises to halve world poverty by 2015, the first phase of the Micah Challenge campaign will come to an end this month.

    The overwhelming sense amongst our wonderful partners is that beyond 2015 and the end date for the MDGs there will be much to do. (These messages from 7 kids born in the year 2000 is an inspiring reminder of why we need to finish what we started.)

    We feel deep in our hearts that a real opportunity exists to take this work to another level, so we will be reopening these doors again in the first half of 2015. Our supporters and the public will see a fresh brand and a new vision, but they will experience the same commitment to ensuring that Christians are advocating for and with the global poor.

    As Micah Challenge closes its doors, it’s also time for me to move on to new things. I have had the enormous privilege of helping to guide this work for almost 6 years. Now it’s time to say farewell. I know that Ben and the team here will guide this work to reach new levels of effectiveness.
     

    Here are some personal reflections from my time at Micah Challenge...
     

    What have we done well? What are you proud of? 

    • I’m proud of the way we have engaged in the political sphere without (I think) compromising our Christian identity or needing to leave it at the door. I would describe it as a humble confidence!
    • I’m proud of how we have promoted an integrated approach. The formation that leads to faithful discipleship always results in action for the transformation of the world.
    • I’m proud of the space we have created where Christians from all traditions have felt comfortable to come together. When we come together in that space and speak together from that space with a collective voice, our voice is stronger. By God’s grace we have experienced phenomenal buy in over a long period of time from across the denominational spectrum.  
    • I’m proud of the way we have made political action accessible. We have worked hard to join the dots between our local opportunities for action, the lives of poor communities overseas and the BIG story about God’s purposes for our world. 
    • I’m proud that we’ve done this without asking people for money. The generosity and engagement from our agency partners has allowed this. Sometimes this has meant we have gone slower than we would have hoped, but it has enabled us to focus on helping people use their voices. We have helped people see creative ways they can be part of the solution, rather than asking them to give us money and suggesting we will solve the problems on their behalf. 
    • I’m proud that we are truly grassroots – Micah Challenge has never been about experts. It’s about all Christians stepping into a life of justice. It’s about ordinary people joining together to take extraordinary action.

    What are your favourite memories?

    • Every year Voices for Justice continues to amaze me. A particular highlight was the year that Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott signed the giant scroll.
    • Our creative campaigns stand out in my memory  – the Manly ‘Halve Poverty’ event, Giant Toilet tour, World’s Biggest Mock Tax Haven and survive past five birthday parties.
    • I remember the pride I felt hearing Kevin Rudd read a hand written letter about child health to the UN’s General Assembly  - sent to him by a young Micah Challenge supporter  as part of our 5th birthday campaign.
    • I remember walking into a Sydney pub a week after our Giant Toilet event at Parliament House in Canberra. I overheard the pub owner telling a man seated at the bar that sanitation was the big issue facing those living in poverty and that the government should be doing more to provide poor nations with clean toilets. She had seen a story about our event on the news earlier that week.

    What are your hopes for the future?

    As I leave this week I face the hard reality that the government has cut our aid program to levels lower than when I started. I have to face the reality that I have led a campaign that has failed to achieve what we set out to achieve.  And there have been other hard times over the last 10 years

    To get through these hard times and setbacks we have sought to teach and instil in our supporters perseverance and courage. We commit our lives to seeking justice. Regardless of the results, we seek to be faithful. 

    So I hope that we will continue to teach a way of life and never focus purely on teaching people campaign strategies or tactics. Despite the anger I feel this week at the immoral, lazy and short-sighted decision of this government, I leave confident about the future because of the amazing changes that we have seen in people’s lives as the church has switched on to advocacy in this country. 

    I also hope that Micah will continue to be a gathering of people who pursue Jesus first, not justice – because if we truly pursue Jesus, and follow his ways, we will have no choice but to be agents for change in a broken world.

    Final thoughts
     

    I have always felt more like a follower than a leader in my time here. I have always been conscious that God’s Spirit has been at work in and through Micah Challenge. I have always been conscious that God is driving this forward, not me. 

    So all that is left to do is offer a word of thanks – to our partners, to the people who have served in the teams I have led, to my family and to the many who have honoured us by joining us along the way. 

    Most of all, thanks to God who has loved us with an everlasting love!

    Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

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    John Beckett has been the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia for the past 6 years. He concludes his role in December 2014 as the first phase of the Micah Challenge campaign also comes to  a close. For more about Micah Challenge and its transition into a new campaigning entity in 2015 click here.