Justice Conference 2018: Be disruptive, be confident, remember that God is here
A bunch of Anglican young adults (pictured above) got together at the Justice Conference a month back. In this blog post, one of them shares about their experience.
Justice Conference 2018 was epic. I am used to going to conferences but an entire conference that combined faith and social justice, that was something new for me. We had a fabulous crew of young Anglicans attending: it was great to mix with other people who are passionate about God and social justice issues.
Dr Lance O’Sullivan, former New Zealander of the Year, spoke really passionately about how he is disrupting the health sector with his iMoko app that assists with improving the health outcomes of children in isolated areas. He told us that he was actually expelled from two schools when he was growing up and part of the reason for this is that he was just a kid that challenged the system. Now he is doing the same thing with the health system, but being disruptive in a positive, innovative way. This made me think that there must be some really cool, disruptive ideas out there among young Anglicans, our whānau and friends and it would be cool to harness that energy to approach social justice in a new and creative way but also to support the great work that is already being done.
What really impressed me is the variety of different ways and approaches that committed Christians are out there in the world, addressing social justice issues. I felt like the different speakers had followed God’s leading in their heart and just had the confidence to do it. They had faith. That’s not to say that they didn’t sometimes question what they were doing. Ruby Duncan, Baptist Union – Neighbourhood and Justice Initiatives Team Leader, spoke of working in the slums in Manila, in the Philippines, and said she was sometimes overwhelmed with the feeling of whether her work was actually making a difference. But I think that the overall message was that each person counts so if you are helping just one person that is significant in itself.
Michael Frost, a Baptist preacher and social activist, who is striving for justice for the refugees being detained by the Australian Government on Nauru island, really emphasised that God will present us with opportunities to get involved in social justice. We just need to be obedient to his call.
This is a beautiful poem by Joel Kurnow, international award-winning performance poet, who spoke on creativity and social justice. I love this poem because it reminds us that no matter what the personal or social justice challenges we face God is here.
God is here
God is present here. In this moment. God is here. And the next moment. He is there too. And the next. And the next. And every time he doesn’t seem to be, when we think he must be hiding, when he appears vacant, when the coldness gets into our bones and we cannot find the warmth we once knew. God is here. When everything crumbles. God is here. When we have lost him. God is here. When we have lost ourselves. God is here. When the roads he once guided our steps upon are now empty. God is here. When we leave the place we call home. God is here. When nothing makes sense, least of all God. God is here. He just doesn’t look like he once did.
 Joel Kurnow, “God is Here” in Joel Kurnow and Zoe Boyle, Hollowed Out Lungs (Australia: Tear Fund Australia), 74.