Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Justice "issues" always begin with a story

The Nebraska Youth VIM team was putting a new roof on the house of an older couple in Springfield, MO. After a couple of days of work, the afternoon break came and the man who owned the house invited them to rest for a bit and enjoy refreshments. He began to share his story.

He had worked for the sheriff's department for more than 30 years. He worked around 38 hours per week, had wanted to go full-time but never was allowed to.

He got cancer and he and his wife went through all their savings and eventually declared bankruptcy trying to pay the medical bills because working only part-time he didn't have adequate health insurance.

At the time the VIM team was there, the cancer had progressed to the terminal stage and the man's last wish was that he not leave his wife with a leaky roof.

The Youth VIM team had performed a significant act of mercy and now they were confronted with the rest of the story...the injustice of a health care system which was not accessible to those who truly needed it.

The youth returned home understanding that in order to serve Christ in a wholistic way, their service needed to include acts of mercy and acts of justice to advocate for change in unjust systems which affect people's lives in dehumanizing and destructive ways.

Two Feet of Christian Service

Mercy - Direct service, such as a food pantry, or homeless shelter. Support charitable agencies. Provide transportation. Provide cultural opportunities. Listen. Care. Deals with individuals. Is spontaneous - no attempt to analyze the cause. Requires short-term help. Tends to be non controversial. Is program-orientated. Tends to be more personal. Does not address power imbalance. Is exemplified by the Good Samaritan and Jesus healing in the Temple.

Justice - Social changes. Political action. Judicial action. Institutional change. Organizing. Education. Deals with systems, policies and structures. Is analytical-asks "what are the causes?" Requires long-term struggle. Can be very controversial. Is policy-focused. Addresses the way society is ordered. Advocates for power sharing. Is exemplified by Moses confronting Pharaoh and Jesus turning the tables in the temple.

---Peace With Justice Ministries, Nebraska Conference UMC,

Please give generously to the Peace With Justice Offering on May 30, 2010 or anytime of the year. To give online click here.

God is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer

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