Having spent the past four years studying Social Policy at University, I am swapping student life for the world of work as I join JPIT as their new full-time intern. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t filled with anxiety at the prospect of living and working in London, as I face the daunting challenge of making new friends and finding my place in this large and overwhelming city! Equally, I am excited about the opportunities this year will give me. The chance to meet new people, to invest in new communities and to work for an organisation that ties together two of my passions: faith and social justice!
I am very much a people person (anyone who knows me will testify to that fact!) and I believe God has given me a real heart for community-building and deeply loving those around me. The greatest calling of Christians is to love. I believe one of the best ways we can show love is through standing up against the injustices experienced by those on the margins, to ensure everyone has the opportunity to flourish and reach their God-given potential.
This belief was a massive influence on my decision to study Social Policy at University, and to be actively involved in student politics and campaigning. It is also why I am so thrilled to be working with JPIT so that I can continue to live out this calling and hopefully help others in the Church to do so too.
We are in a society where homelessness and poverty are continuing to rise. Where more people are going hungry, and where people are increasingly feeling isolated and left behind. My studies and political involvement have further highlighted this reality. The more I learn, the more I feel my heart break for our world, and I feel an even stronger call to proactively stand up for justice wherever possible.
I have been very blessed that my family and a lot of friends at Church have understood this. Many have shared my convictions about the need for Christians to be involved in political activism. But sadly, I’ve found politics can be a dirty word to many in the Church. While churches happily engage in much great and needed charitable work, I have often been frustrated at the reluctance amongst some churches to engage in more political activities. I believe the Church is well positioned to go beyond simply offering quick and temporary fixes. It has a platform to advocate for and lift up the voices of the oppressed and marginalized, and to be involved in bringing about lasting institutional political change.
I believe there are so many wonderful people in the Church who love Jesus and want to show His love to others. During my time with JPIT, I am excited to see how we can mobilise and empower these individuals to use this passion in a practical way that can lead to real, radical change.
Before I went to University I was given this Franciscan blessing. I still have it framed in my room:
May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation of people,
So that you may work for
Justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer pain,
Rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand
To comfort them and
To turn their pain to joy
And may God bless you
With enough foolishness
To believe that you can
Make a difference in the world,
So that you can do
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
To all our children and the poor.
This is my prayer for the Church this year—that we can boldly step out in faith, pursuing justice and having the confidence that God can use us to make a real difference in our world.