I am one of the new JPIT interns, also spending part of my time in Westminster as a parliamentary assistant for Derek Thomas (MP for West Cornwall). Before joining JPIT, I worked with Christians Against Poverty, a charity striving to help people who are struggling with unmanageable debt. Before that, I studied politics and international relations at university. I am really excited to get started with the job – although it has meant my plans to travel till Christmas have had to go!
I have always been fascinated and interested by politics and charity. I grew up in Cambodia, and while this was largely a great experience, I also saw a nation where the government made decisions largely at odds with citizens’ wellbeing. In a country with tremendous poverty, inequality and historical trauma, most help and support came through NGOs, charity and the goodwill of others. I saw little hope or expectation of a government which engages with these responsibilities.
When I returned to the UK, I saw a very different expectation and interpretation of government. One which does, through action or inaction have a palpable, life-altering impact on society. It is also seen to have a duty to be involved in this. As I learnt more about the UK’s history and experienced referendums and dramatic elections, I saw countless examples of this being the case. Because of this, charity and politics are both things I see as uniquely capable of bettering people’s lives, and worthy pursuits of Christians.
Something I am really interested in is recognising the huge diversity of perspectives on politics within the church, and navigating this from a place of respect, kindness, patience and compassion. On issues big and small, and politics wide and narrow, Christians often find a conclusion through, or that they can integrate with, their personal faith. Challengingly, people’s interpretations and personal narrative may start with similar fundamentals but end up with a wide variety of conclusions. It is easy to assume that those with alternative views are not approaching the issue with as much “godliness” as we are. I think this approach can become a dangerous way of viewing fellow Christians and I am passionate about working to reach a common understanding. We can learn that where we do disagree, it is still possible for the other person to be coming from a place of authentic personal faith and Christian values. Of course, this idea is not all-encompassing, and there have to be values which underpin our approach to politics and what matters. Part of what drew me to JPIT straight away was its six hopes for the world that, to me, feels like the world God wants us to strive for. I’m ready to start working on projects that move us towards this world.