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April 2010 ISSUE

Social Justice and Evangelism

Thoughts on social justice and evangelism from young adults at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.

Daniel Alarcon

An intern with the Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission

I’m from Santiago, Chile, and a psychologist by profession.

My evangelical work as an advocate with the Salvation Army is based on biblical mandates. The Bible is the very center of our spiritual welfare and our physical needs.

The United Nations was created to guarantee peace and development of nations, and we have participated in its work since 1947. In recent days, we’ve embraced the Millennium Development Goals as a focus of our research, teaching, policy and coalition work.

William Booth — the Salvation Army founder, who is considered a model of evangelical passion — said that he was passionate for souls, yet the work was about the care of peoples’ bodies and clothing. The Gospel story is about how Jesus was incarnated into a body in this world. He exhibited both divine and human natures.

To me evangelical means that we are not only passionate for souls but also for human bodily needs. Things like the politically and economically important Millennium Development Goals help people meet human needs. 

Joseph Kim

Working with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society’s United Nations Office

I am a Korean-American United Methodist from East Ohio Conference.

When I graduated from the University of Michigan, I struggled with the kind of work I wanted to pursue. I majored in English and political science with hopes of working in the international arena, but needed something more. Today, the reason that I do the work that I do is precisely because it is “evangelical.” Are we not called to share the love of Jesus Christ?

Being an advocate for social justice at the United Nations allows me, and our denomination, the opportunity to call upon world leaders to remember the least, the last and the lost.

James 2:18 says, “But someone will say ‘You have faith; I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” The work that I do allows me to combine my faith and my desire to share the Gospel in the ministry to which God has called me.

Kayon Watson

An intern with the Mennonite Central Committee

I grew up in the Church of God denomination. English is my first language, and Spanish is my second. I understand the Caribbean language Patois because my family is Jamaican. I’m an advocate on behalf of the people we serve in various developing countries.

I see my work as social justice and evangelism because I serve Christ. His very nature is to bring justice on all levels of society, including the level of social organization.

So when I’m advocating on behalf of women who are victims of sexual violence in war-torn countries, I’m advocating, defending and supporting a kingdom of God principle that is not practiced in that particular society.

Evangelism is advocating the Gospel. The Gospel is the word, and the word is God. Therefore, for me, there is no separation between social justice and evangelism. The very foundation of justice, love and hope is many times contrary to what society says, and my advocacy — evangelism — is reconciling God’s kingdom principles to this world’s kingdom principles.

Christine Mangale

Working with the Lutheran Office for World Community

I am Kenyan. Mission and social justice are integral parts of evangelism in Africa.

In a community where most families live well below the poverty line, we have many challenges. Lack of access to affordable health care, adequate food, job opportunities, education and training, basic amenities, such as clean water and sanitation, are some of the challenges.

Many churches in Kenya have been engaged directly in service as a way of bringing people into the church. For example, in my church we engage youth in activities of interest. We make sure that life skills are taught. This work is received with much gratitude and recipients of these services often become regular congregants of the church.

Through a peer education program we have reached out to the youth in impoverished areas. We run a regular feeding program for children and youth from these communities. Although not always stated, I believe it is evangelism.

At the United Nations, I am working at a purely policy level. I take the experiences I’ve had in mission where I’ve seen such great need and work to make more just policies for impoverished people.

Meron Meshesha

An intern with the World Council of Churches

I am from the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition.

Through personal experience, I have always seen a strong connection between evangelism and social justice. Yet my work in the area of social justice was separate from my participation in church.

Growing up, my family and I attended the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which participated in awareness raising and fundraising for various political issues in Ethiopia. Yet the work done in the form of evangelism in tandem with social justice was not apparent.

I have taken the initiative to visit other Ethiopian Orthodox churches and other denominations, and have been drawn to their mission in fighting for social justice. I have been able to see the various ways they have linked it to evangelism.

For example, one church hosted church services that taught and advocated for the Gospel at a transitional home for drug addicts, while also organizing job opportunities and permanent housing for them.

The work that I do here with social and economic policy has also given me the chance to explore how I personally identify evangelism with social justice.
 

Last Updated: 03/23/2014
 
 

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