From praising and hand-raising to watered-down cordial, our churches are certainly known for some weird and wonderful things. But what would it look like if we were known for more than just our Sunday services, for more than our preaching and for more than our praying? What would it look like if our churches were known for justice?
Around the country, in churches of all shapes and sizes, we are seeing God’s heart for justice being expressed – communities of God’s people speaking truth to power, and calling for justice for the poor and the vulnerable. And one way they’re doing this is by hosting ‘What We’re For’ events.
Fully resourced by Micah Australia and the Campaign for Australian Aid, these events provide opportunities for churches and community groups to engage with issues of poverty and Australian Aid, and demonstrate to our federal representatives that there is community support for aid. They are an opportunity for us, as God’s people, to show that we are for justice, for generosity, and for the life-saving work of Australian Aid.
Last weekend, in the stunning South Coast town of Kiama, the latest ‘What We’re For’ event was held.
Instead of their regular church services, Kiama Baptist Church gathered on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the work of Australian Aid and show their support for helping communities lift themselves out of poverty. They heard stories about the impact that the aid cuts were having on real communities, spent time reflecting on God’s call for his people to do justice, and took part in advocacy actions, which involved calling on our nation’s leaders to do more to help end extreme poverty around the world.
Labor Candidate for the electorate of Gilmore, Fiona Philips, who attended the event, later thanked Kiama Baptist for helping to create greater awareness of Australian Aid and its transformational work in communities.
Each time a church hosts a ‘What We’re For’ event I’m reminded of Isaiah 58, where God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to call his people back to proper worship of him. He calls on them to replace their insincere piety and hollow religious practices with justice, compassion and generosity towards the poor and oppressed. In this powerful passage, God says:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter”?
This means that worshipping God involves caring and speaking up for the poor and oppressed.
It means that when we raise our voices for justice, we are living out a core part of our faith.
It means that when we take part in actions like ‘What We’re For’ events, we’re doing much more than just engaging in politics; we’re engaging with God, and with His heart for the poor.
With Australia’s aid budget falling to its lowest ever level, now is a critical time for us as Christians to stand up, to speak up, and to show our leaders that we are for more than just preaching and praising, we’re for justice. And that means we’re for Australian Aid.
Click here to sign up to host a ‘What We’re For’ event and receive your Host Pack in the mail.
Eliza Whalley is the Advocacy Coordinator at Baptist World Aid (a member agency of Micah Australia) and sits on Micah Australia’s Campaign Strategy Group.