• Ordinary Prophets

    Posted by Amanda

    18 October, 2011

    Last month over 230 ‘ordinary' people in Australia took four days off work, study or family commitments to visit Parliament House in Canberra for the Voices for Justice gathering. They prepared in prayer then knocked on doors to talk, listen and debate about global poverty with the leaders of their nation - these Micah Challenge supporters are a powerful and prophetic voice on the Millennium Development Goals.

    All over our world, ordinary Christians are discovering their prophetic advocacy role on justice and righteousness issues. It's a faith tradition that somehow got lost in some parts of the Church last century but Old Testament figures like Daniel, Joseph, Moses and Nebuchadnezzar had no issues dealing with kings to get things done for God and to make life more godly for all. And throughout the history of the Church, people motivated by biblical truth, have tried to right wrongs.
    Elizabeth Fry is a personal favourite on my list of prophetic Christians. An ‘ordinary' mother and wife, living very comfortably, she yearned for God to show her how she could “help the downtrodden". In her 20s, she was involved in distributing food and clothing to poor families until a friend encouraged her to visit Newgate prison. The conditions she saw there appalled her and she became first, a provider of charity and practical support. Later she was an advocate for prison reform: she gave first hand evidence to the House of Commons, which contributed to new legislation on prison reform. Her work also brought change to prisons in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. AND she raised 11 children!

    Always, Fry was concerned for the social, economic and spiritual health of the imprisoned women she helped. She wanted them to be able to read the Bible as well as have enough food. She took an interest in long-term development, setting up halfway homes for women just out of jail, places where they could be safe and could gain employment skills.

    God took Fry's initial desire to 'help' and led her to be a voice for the most desperate women in society in the early 19th century. She was prophetic because she spoke God's truth into a specific situation that needed change.

    Nearly two centuries later, Zach Hunter, a 19-year-old American, has also discovered the power of advocacy for people trapped in modern slavery. He is sometimes asked about the apparent division between preaching the gospel and showing God's love in action. He recently wrote:

    “I was in the Kibera slum in Africa and met a mom who was looking for a way to feed her children. If I had talked to her about her need to change her ways, my words would seem cruel and not at all good news. And, surprise to many -- this woman already was a Christian - she just needed her brothers and sisters to show up and meet her physical needs." (You can read the whole article on the Huffington Post).

    Advocacy in Canberra at the Voices for Justice event focused on levels of overseas aid that are going to sanitation and health initiatives and to helping poor nations in the region deal with the huge challenges of changing climate. Their conversations were informed and well researched as well as passionate - characteristics of any good advocacy.

    In Zambia, there is an election this month. Zambian Micah Challenge advocates will ask candidates what they will do about local issues like schooling and how they will speak up for honesty in politics.

    India has been in the news lately because a huge wave of public opinion is calling for action on corruption, a scourge which robs the poor of services and justice. Micah Challenge India knows that the Millennium Development Goals will not be met unless policies and laws that look good on paper are actually implemented. They emphasized this point last week when Christian leaders met with 12 national politicians in Delhi.

    The discussion centred on turning ideas into tangible results and long-term development for the 150 poorest districts in India - places where scheduled castes and tribes, and Muslim and Christian minorities are more likely to live.

    The politicians gave no clear commitment to extra funding for the poorest areas - good advocacy requires persistence! But the door is now open for more meetings with practical outcomes.

    All over the world God's people are acting and speaking. Let's continue be advocates; ‘ordinary prophets', who proclaim God's values in the public arena. We can't complain that politics is too dirty, too secular or too corrupt if we fail to take every opportunity to be an influence for good. We are not looking for power, we are looking to be an influence for whatever is noble, right and pure (Phil 4:8).

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    Amanda Jackson is the Campaigns Coordinator for Micah Challenge International and the former National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.