Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Make Connections at the 2014 Justice Conference


By Jared Noetzel

I wouldn’t be working at Bread for the World if it wasn’t for the Justice Conference.

A year ago, I was sitting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, interning for Paz y Esperanza, a Bolivian-run human rights organization. One day, as I was doing some reading online, I saw an ad for the conference. After some browsing, I sent an email to a group of interns from Wheaton College, who were working for organizations around the world on the same program that took me to Bolivia. Eventually, we decided that the conference was worth the 13-hour road trip from Wheaton, which is in Chicago, to Philly, and we bought tickets.

We’ve all received career advice, and often it has to do with polishing a resume or sharpening answers to interview questions. Maybe some advisers give you inside scoop on networking, but no one tells you to go to conferences with your friends. In other words, I didn’t walk into the exhibitor hall looking for a job.

Then, I walked up to Bread for the World’s table and met Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, the head of national evangelical church relations for the organization. We shook hands, and she made a simple offer: sign this petition, and we’ll give you a shirt. Now, as a college student, a free shirt is a pretty good reason to do most things, but in this case it was an easy decision. The petition was aimed at President Obama, urging him to follow up on his 2012 election pledges to address hunger and poverty, both in the United States and abroad.

Only then did I have the good sense to ask Krisanne a bit more about Bread. She gave me her card and I promised to follow up.

A month or so later, I sat on my friend’s couch and typed out an email to Krisanne. I joked that "this email is going to get me a job!" My friend and I were both graduating seniors, staring down the job market without serious prospects. I hit "send," and went back to editing a paper.

Krisanne got back to me, and we set up an interview. After some consideration on both our parts, I committed to an internship after graduation. In those three months, my work presented a steep learning curve. But, it turned out that I fit in pretty well, and Bread offered me a position to continue engaging evangelicals in the movement to end hunger from Bread’s office in Washington, D.C.

The Justice Conference served as a transition point for me. In Bolivia, I walked with our brothers and sisters in their faithful efforts to challenge unjust systems and create lasting change. Now, as a young professional, I have an amazing opportunity to apply the lessons I learned in Bolivia to Bread’s advocacy here in the United States. It’s an immense privilege, and the Justice Conference played a huge role in getting me here.

If you, your church, or campus would like to help channel burgeoning professionals into the work of justice, please consider joining the Justice Conference, which will be held in February 2014, as a partner site. You’ll receive access to top-notch content from the event in Los Angeles, and support from the Justice Conference team as you organize your own local gathering of justice seekers.

For more information about the Justice Conference, and to register, visit thejusticeconference.com.

Jared Noetzel is Bread for the World's evangelical engagement fellow.


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