by Jen Arens
For 25 years of my ministry I epitomized the “Dangerous Women” poem from Lynn Hybels’ book Nice Girls Don’t Change the World.
I acknowledged my power to change, grow, and be radically alive for God. I was the healer of wounds and righter of wrongs. I wept with those who wept and spoke for those who cannot speak for themselves. I ran ministries that cherished children, embraced the elderly and empowered the poor.
I sang songs of joy and talked down fear. I never hesitated to let passion push me, conviction compel me, and righteous anger energize me. I was able to strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world and I dismantled abusive systems and silence lies with truth. In fact, I shined like stars in a darkened generation, and I overflowed with goodness of God.
But then I got cancer.
I didn’t just get cancer, I got the chronic form of leukemia that took down Batman himself, Adam West.
I went from fighting the good fight to barely being able to get off the couch and, while I still have the fire to bring social justice into the world, there are some days in which I can’t even get out of bed.
I was once a dangerous woman and now I am the one who needs help.
“So,” I ask myself, “How am I able to bring about social justice when I’m so sick?”
But then I remembered my friend Cat.
During one of the darkest hours in her life she could barely get out of bed so she spent a lot of time praying for my fledgling ministry. As she was praying she came across a website for a new non-profit legal service in my neighborhood and all she did was forward on that information to me.
I was on the front lines completely entrenched in social justice. she was in the safety of her bedroom. However it was my friend Cat was the one who changed the face of my ministry forever.
Cat’s story is a tale for another day but her actions have been a guidepost for me as I think about how I can bring justice in my limited capacity.
Understanding that not everyone can be on the frontlines of the social justice, I have had to reconsider what I am able to give to this fight. Thinking about my limitations, I realize there are a few things that I can do.
GET OFF THE COUCH
The first and most important step in bringing social justice is to evaluate your capacity. I have a real excuse for getting off the couch but for many others the overwhelming need is so scary that they do nothing. STOP IT. There is always something you can do, even with limited time and energy. Figure out what God has gifted you to do and go do it.
In the meantime you can;
There is so much that needs to be done and there is so much that can be done, it’s hard to know where to start. Understanding what The Salvation Army does to promote justice is a good place to being. Two websites that you might want to check out are www.sajustice.us and http://www.salvationarmy.org/isjc Both websites provide great resources and opportunities to get trained to fight injustice as well as a global prayer guide for the spiritual fight against oppression.
Ask Questions But Start Locally
Think about your own circle of friends and family first. How can you help those you love face injustice? Ask them how they need assistance. Next, find out how The Salvation Army and other organizations in your immediate community are fighting for freedom. Ask them how you can pray for them or if there is a way you can support them directly.
Don’t just pray for social justice in general but pray specifically. Cover individuals by name as you pray. Pray for those on the front line. Ask if you can pray for clients by name – even if the names have been changed due to confidentiality. Pray scripture over programs like Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 31:9, Matthew 22:39, James 1:27, Matthew 25:40, and Jeremiah 22:3. Don’t just pray these scriptures for others, pray them for yourself. I love praying Isaiah 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
Do What You Can
Because I struggle with my health I am limited with what I am able to do. One thing that I am able to do is send cards to people. As a kid whenever I missed church this amazing prayer warrior named Lola at our corps would send me a card and let me know that she missed me and was praying for me. Those cards meant so much to me and it laid the foundation for what I am able to do today. For me it’s writing cards, for someone else it may be baking cookies for the homeless shelter or knitting scarves for the domestic violence home. What are you able to do for others? Why aren’t you doing it?