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EvangelicalAdvocacy.org: Educating Ourselves on Hunger, Justice, Advocacy, and Faith
I sat in my cubicle mesmerized by my student’s depiction of his life for 13 years in rural Africa: raised beds of vegetables, dusty dirt roads stretching to the horizon, smiling faces dripping with sweat in the bright orange sun.
As a professor at Eastern University, I traded in my life in humanitarian aid, development, and missions for the privilege of training Christian relief workers with a powerful set of program planning and economic tools set within the framework of Kingdom principles. But on days like this one, I still feel like the student.
As David recounted stories of his narrow escape from war-torn South Sudan, he transported me to the joys and struggles of life as a refugee. I learned that David alone survived from his family. I heard the story of his settlement within a refugee camp outside of his nation’s borders, the new farming techniques he mastered, and the privilege given to him to travel to other sites to teach the art of soil cultivation, crop rotation, and farming.
Through the opportunities birthed in his tragedy, David learned that he had a knack for teaching and offered language lessons, dance classes, and Bible training. For the first time, he dreamed of earning a degree and raising up a new generation of Sudanese leaders rooted in biblical truth and equipped with practical knowledge of commerce, trade, and agricultural innovation, rather than knowledge of war and violence.
I also learned that money from the United States Agency For International Development (USAID) made this possible through funding David’s refugee camp. Beneficial U.S. foreign assistance had fed, protected, and promoted this brilliant young leader in his most vulnerable years and afforded him a new vision of a thriving South Sudan. Now, David has completed two masters degrees and is finally headed home to begin the long process of nation building in the fertile ground of South Sudan.
If loving God and loving neighbor have, through Jesus’s teaching, become inseparable parts of following Christ, then caring for the welfare of our global neighbor must become a priority for American Christians, especially as citizens within an earthly state that wields so much international influence.
Asbury Seminary’s E. Stanley Jones School for World Mission and Evangelism, Bread for the World Institute, and Eastern University’s School of Leadership and Development joined forces to develop a resource to help Christians think and pray through their role in advocacy, especially in relationship to U.S. foreign assistance and its efforts to combat hunger and poverty. Researchers and practitioners from these three institutions have collaborated to create a new, living website called evangelicaladvocacy.org.
This website serves as a clearinghouse of resources designed to help Christians form their own scriptural and theological perspectives on government, advocacy, and how churches and individuals can influence positive social change. The materials are organized into four main topics: theology of poverty in today’s world, Christians engaging government, government initiatives against global poverty, and advocacy on U.S. government foreign assistance.
As Christians in the United States yearn to serve Christ in word and deed, we acknowledge our dual citizenship in our heavenly home and our earthly nation. Our privileged position within a democratic society offers a unique opportunity to care for the vulnerable, to advocate for the marginalized, and to stand on behalf of our global neighbor. May we carry the dream of David in our hearts as we deepen our awareness about advocacy, foreign assistance, and U.S. policy.
Amanda Kaminski serves as an adjunct faculty member at Eastern University’s School of Leadership and Development in St. David’s, PA. This fall she begins her candidacy for a Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
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