Maybe it seems that Micah Challenge has been a bit quiet lately. Maybe you're wondering if that silence represents inactivity and uncertainty. In our case, it’s more the silence that falls as the clouds gather and before the deluge is finally unleashed.
Since 2005, Micah Challenge has worked to raise awareness and action on global poverty and to equip Christians to become advocates for the poor. We have called on Australia’s political leaders to live up to their Millennium promise to “spare no effort” to free men, women and children from abject poverty and contribute our fair share to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Now in 2015, the target year of the MDGs is upon us and globally, the world has seen remarkable progress against some of the worst aspects of poverty, ensuring improved health, education and opportunity for millions of people around the world. Our voices, raised together, have helped drive Australia’s contribution to this process. There have certainly been setbacks – but our past campaigning, in collaboration with others, has led to unprecedented action to increase and improve Australia’s aid program, to invest in health and sanitation, and to begin ensuring that multinationals are transparent about how much tax they pay (or don’t pay).
And in the MDG target year, all the organisations, churches and individuals who together form Micah Challenge felt it was important for us to take the time to reflect on our campaigning and consider deeply and prayerfully whetherand how we should continue to work together as a combined Christian voice, speaking out together for a world free from poverty. The answer to the question of whether we should continue campaigning together was a resounding, “YES.”
But our context, ten years on from the start of the Micah movement, is very different. The global picture relating to poverty and sustainable human development has changed dramatically. The Millennium Development Goals are being replaced by a new set of global goals. We face a new political and campaigning environment in Australia. In light of this changed context, it is critical for us to be intentional and strategic about deciding and planning how we should continue to work together.
So, although we have been quieter than usual, and our campaigning less active than usual, we have been hard at work. Through participatory, reflective and prayerful workshops, we have been renewing the strength and engagement of the coalition. Micah is powerful because we speak together as a coalition of churches, Christian aid organisations and individuals.
We have been renewing our vision and our analysis of the causes and consequences of poverty and the part that Australian Christians can play in advocating for a world free from poverty and injustice. We know that this will help inform even more powerful and strategic campaigns and a deeper and richer way of helping Christians hear and respond to God’s call on us all to be advocates with people in poor communities.
We have been developing new ways to work together. Some things will look and feel familiar – we have the same heart for gathering, inspiring and equipping Australian Christians as advocates. But some things are changing – and we hope becoming richer and more powerful.
To take one example, Voices for Justice has always been a powerful gathering in Canberra. It trains and empowers hundreds of Christians each year and impacts hundreds of our national leaders. This year, though, while maintaining the same combination of worship, workshops, creative actions, and political engagement we want to move Voices for Justice from being just a wonderful one-off conference and lobbying event to being also a platform for deeper campaign strategising and ongoing resourcing as advocates.
The storm clouds are gathering, and the first drops of rain are about to fall. Soon, you will see a renewed vision and strategy to achieve our mission to:
Gather, inspire and empower Australian Christians as advocates, to share God’s heart for justice and raise a powerful voice with and for people in poor communities around the world.
You’ll see powerful new campaigns that contribute to a world free from poverty.
You’ll see a new look for Micah with a new(ish) name. Hint, we’ll still be called Micah.
The storm clouds are gathered, heavy with a deluge of justice. And as the downpour comes, what we most need to see is... you. Your presence in the storm, your voice added to the cry. Because you are Micah. And we are powerful when we raise our voices together.
Ben Thurley is the National Coordinator of Micah Australia.