I am an unlikely activist.
As a college student I focused on preparation for ministry and ‘saving souls.’ My dreams, plans, and desires centered on how to be more effective in youth ministry, camps, mission trips, etc. I strove to make an impact, and what mattered was how the now impacted the ‘future coming glory.’
I recall one instance on my college campus where a student group was showing a film relating to the actions of the CIA in El Salvador. At the time, I couldn’t be bothered to go and see it; I wasn’t into ‘social justice.’
After a number of years in full-time ministry my story began to change. My wife and I went to Great Britain to live and work, and my eyes were opened to a global world different from my sheltered American upbringing. I met followers of Jesus from a variety of cultures who thought and lived very differently than me.
While living in the UK I was able to travel to a number of countries, including Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was just after the war in the late ’90’s and I saw firsthand the devastation of extreme poverty. That trip, and others around the globe like it, shaped me in profound ways. My own naive college-student ideas of both theology and what ‘social justice’ meant completely shifted.
My entry into “activism” with ONE was in 2006 when I heard what ONE was doing to alleviate poverty in Africa. It was easy to feel like an activist—the website is set up such that all I needed to do was click and I was able to send a message to my congressperson on issues of poverty in Africa, mosquito nets, immunizations, and electricity. I was what some call a ‘clicktavist’ and it felt good to help.
My family moved to Wichita in 2013 and through conversation with ONE I became even more involved. I agreed to the role of Regional Faith Leader (RFL) for Wichita, an opportunity that led to me attending the ONE Power Summit in Washington DC in March. I gathered with 150 fellow ONE members from around the USA to learn more about issues of global poverty, hear from policy makers from across party lines, and talk to Senators and Congresspersons about issues of electricity, immunizations, and global HIV/Aids treatments. In this new role I fully embraced myself as an “activist” and it felt good.
I’ve come along way from college when I wouldn’t see a film because it had to do with peace and justice. Now I actively promote these issues because the Kingdom of God is much more than “pray a prayer so you can go to heaven when you die,” I believe that the Church is called to make a difference here and now in this world.
“ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:40