Fifteen students from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., helped stage a three-day vigil of prayer, fasting, and advocacy in New York City during the 2005 United Nations World Summit in September.
The vigil, held in the shadow of the United Nations headquarters, was co-sponsored by the Micah Challenge (see July 2005 Banner). The Micah Challenge’s mission is to hold world governments accountable to the eight Millennium Development Goals all members of the United Nations have adopted. The goals, if met, could cut global poverty in half by 2015.
Jason Fileta, a 2005 Calvin graduate and campus coordinator for the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action, worked with Calvin’s Service Learning department and the student club Social Justice Coalition to organize the bus trip to New York.
“A core component of following Jesus Christ is advocating for the poor,” said Fileta. “It was really neat to see people break down doctrinal and denominational barriers and work together.”
Fileta remembered two passersby, a mother and daughter from Paraguay, who took the stage: “They told us, with tears in their eyes, what an impact it had on them to see Christians gathering in public to fight for people like them.”
Calvin students provided logistical support for the event, including setup, publicity, and public relations—but they also participated in prayer and fasting and regularly joined in public discussion.
The vigil, which was attended by hundreds, was supported by nationwide letter-writing and fasting campaigns. Event leaders met with prominent politicians, including a top deputy from the United States’ U.N. delegation.