By Roberta Nichols
“…Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God” -Micah 6:8 (ESV)
Doing justice is doable — when you know how. Micah 6:8 has baffled me for years. I’ve always known its message is important to incorporate into my life, but I never understood what it means to “DO justice.” It always seemed an issue best left to the professionals, i.e., judges, lawyers, or government leaders. It never occurred to me that I could obey the biblical mandate in practical ways that are in line with my own talents and gifts.
When two workshops on justice were presented by World Vision at my church recently, I attended both to learn more. The first workshop established a foundation for biblical justice, or the “why.” The second workshop on biblical advocacy explained the “how” of advocacy in tangible ways that any layperson can easily implement. Facilitated by biblical advocacy trainer and author, Alexia Salvatierra, each workshop was skillfully presented and incorporated small group discussions that reinforced our learning experience.
To engage in biblical justice, “first we have to see,” says Salvatierra. In our busy world, we often don’t notice what’s going on next door, let alone across the globe. Learning to see others through Jesus’ eyes is the basis of compassion that leads to action. My eyes were opened to my own blindness. I began to pray for a heart that sees.
At the second workshop, I learned that biblical advocacy is about going beyond seeing what is, to casting a vision for what could be. We were challenged to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16) in our advocacy by employing both “serpent power” and “dove power.” Serpent power employs influence and appeals to the self-interest of the decision-maker. Dove power incorporates the power of the Holy Spirit released through prayer and often involves encouraging or “giving courage” to persons in power as we invite them to do the right thing (justice).
Along with strategies, we were given practical tools to begin advocacy – the name and contact information for our local congressman, and an issue to advocate for – birth registration through the Girls Count Act.
Our church chose to offer training in biblical justice and advocacy to elevate justice as a key spiritual mandate. “It’s easy to get people excited about the need for justice in the world, but difficult to actually get them engaged in meaningful ways,” says Chaz Nichols, Director of Outreach at Westwood Community Church in Excelsior, Minnesota. “Advocacy is something practical we can all do right now, whether it is emailing our elected decision makers on specific issues, visiting a legislator’s office, or making phone calls to local representatives. The Spirit-led and Bible-based practical training provided by World Vision created a greater awareness of needs and provided strategies for the issues God brings to us.”
Attending the Biblical Advocacy Training made me aware that anyone can advocate for justice. Even I can “do justice” by using my gifts and skills of writing, praying, and encouragement to tackle the issues that speak to my heart.
To host a Biblical Advocacy Training at your church or organization, click here, or consider these five steps that we followed to make ours happen:
- Click this link to sign-up to arrange a Biblical Advocacy Training. World Vision will provide a trainer and program materials for participants.
- Coordinate the date, time and physical logistics for the workshop. Reserve a meeting room, make table and seating arrangements, request audio visual equipment, etc.
- Create an event team to manage the details, including participant recruitment, creating promotional materials, set up, beverage and snack service, and clean up after the event.
- Communicate details about the workshop. At our church the event was publicized on our website, in our monthly church publication, and on the Outreach Facebook page. Our Justice Team also promoted the workshop to others in their sphere of influence.
- Consider forming a Justice Team to harness the momentum gained by advocacy training. A Justice Team can target key initiatives to adopt as a congregation and can create ways to foster engagement by the church at large. World Vision can provide ideas and practical tools to equip your team for effective service.
Roberta Nichols is an independent copywriter based in Chaska, Minnesota.
Photo: Chaz Nichols, Director of Outreach at Westwood Community Church with other ministry leaders during a Justice Advocacy Training in January 2015. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Mootz.)