• Senior church leaders meet Federal politicians - a lot of love in the room!

    Posted by John

    24 June, 2011

    5.45 am yesterday I pulled myself out of bed and ventured out into a dark and bleak Canberra morning. For the first time, Micah Challenge were pulling together a significant group of denominational leaders in Parliament House for a day of lobby meetings with Federal Politicians. Love wasn't a word that was on my mind.

    Any who have tried will know that bringing churches together to do things is not always easy - let alone adding Federal politicians into the mix. But God was gracious. A group including senior representatives of the Anglican, Baptist, Vineyard, Australian Christian Churches, Salvation Army, Churches of Christ and Uniting churches had 32 meetings with MPs and Senators in one day. There was an open door for our collective voice to be heard.

    The day started with a Parliamentary breakfast where we presented the creative petitions that many of you sent to Kevin Rudd as part of our Mothers Day midwife crisis campaign. Mr Rudd accepted and acknowledged them. He spoke well - as he usually does on this issue - indicating that health indeed should be a priority in our aid spending.

    After breakfast we split into five groups and headed off to our meetings. Major Kelvin Alley, Federal Secretary of the Salvation Army and Ester Indriani, Maternal health specialist for World Vision International, joined my group. Both had lived and worked extensively in the Pacific. Both were passionate and articulate advocates for and with the poor they have met. Two highlights stand out for me:

    1) A meeting with Richard Marles, Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific, where I listened as three wise people grappled with the reasons why we're not seeing the development breakthroughs we hope and pray for in the Pacific.

    2) The opportunity to sit in meetings with the Prime Minister's office and Ms Julie Bishop as those beside me added the collective weight of the Salvation Army, the Australian Christian Churches, Hillsong and the Baptist Union of Australia behind our calls for Australia to do more to help the poorest in our world

    To have such a strong collective voice on the issues of global poverty is something we should be thankful for.

    But even more than that, we need to be thankful for the message we heard from politicians yesterday. Overwhelmingly, there was a positive response. Our leaders are showing leadership on this issue, from all sides of politics.

    I'm not under any illusion that all our leaders are supportive or that it will always be like that - just a cursory glance at the last half of the Old Testament will show you that it wasn't always like that for the prophets of old! The message of justice for the poor - a message that usually involves some sort of self-sacrifice from the rich - has not always been popular amongst powerful leaders.

    But yesterday, there was a lot of love in the room! Love? Yes, that's how I would describe it, because action on behalf of the poor is love in action. We continue to pray and act to foster the love and ensure the good will does turn into action!

    ______________________

    John Beckett (known to most of us as JB) is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.

    JB desires to see more and more Christians taking on justice, mercy and humility as a way of life and speaking, praying and acting for and with the global poor.