Recently, I was at the Inspire Justice ecumenical conference in Cambridge, Ontario. The conference was held on April 12 and 13 and was attended by hundreds of participants from various Christian denominations. It was a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.
It was humbling because we discussed issues relating to injustices in this world: hunger, the HIV/AIDs pandemic, corporate greed, child trafficking and other atrocities committed by our fellow humans. It made me sad for humanity and embarrassed at the same time. I kept thinking, “God must be so disappointed in us.” Here we are, his children, created in love; he blessed us with life and the gift of community and the beautiful earth we live on. Yet, we are destroying his creation; we are destroying ourselves and our neighbours, and look at what we’re doing to the earth! We’re the worst stewards ever.
I started to feel like Solomon, in the later stages of his life. I was overcome with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness for humanity:
“Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun.
Look, the tears of the oppressed—
with no one to comfort them!
On the side of their oppressors there was power—
with no one to comfort them.
And I thought the dead,
who have already died,
more fortunate than the living, who are still alive;
but better than both
is the one who has not yet been,
and has not seen the evil deeds
that are done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)
As the conference continued, I started to feel more hopeful and inspired. We heard from various Christian authors such as Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne about the good work Christians are doing around the world to stand up against injustice and to help the oppressed. I was at once reminded of all the work Canadian Lutheran World Relief is doing for food security, agricultural development, human rights and gender equity, and emergency relief. There IS hope!
When people come together in the interest of helping others, so much can be accomplished. While Jesus reminded us that “the poor are always with us,” we are still agents of change. We are God’s ambassadors, and he uses us to make a positive impact in the lives of many people—just think of Mother Teresa!
It’s hard for us to all be Mother Teresas; to leave everything we have behind and work in the most isolated places with marginalized communities. Jesus did not expect all of us to do so either. He gives us the example of Zacchaeus, who had a change of heart and decided to give half of his wealth away to help the poor. The Bible doesn’t mention whether he stopped being a tax collector, but we do know that he was transformed by Jesus and decided to be one of his followers.
As followers of Jesus, we can help the poor and marginalized in many ways. Through support and donations to aid organizations like Canadian Lutheran World Relief, we are making a great difference! And so, I was inspired by the work of CLWR and other aid organizations who are followers of Christ and who are making a positive difference in the world, in Christ’s name.
Church Liaison and Volunteer Coordinator
CLWR Eastern Regional Office