A Movement of Hope

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Allison Bachous talks about biblical justice with the passion of a preacher.

“People long to be united by expressing their faith in ways that make a difference in the world,” says Bachous, a 2007 graduate of Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Ill., who studied English and philosophy.

Bachous’s own longing for life-changing connection caught fire when she organized a campus prayer vigil to build awareness about the Darfur crisis. Until then she wasn’t really interested in justice—she just liked organizing people. But that all changed.

Getting More Deeply Involved

Since the vigil, Bachous and other Trinity students have vigorously wrestled with justice issues. The one-time Darfur event became a weekly praise time, and the students established a campus Social Justice Chapter. Jason Fileta, a student organizer with the CRC’s Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action (OSJHA), provided guidance. The chapter also drew on the experience of a similar, more established group at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich. Bachous, who serves as the Social Justice Chapter’s president, says the group has had good success in its first year and a half.

As they more actively worked for justice, the Trinity students began to see how their everyday actions changed their own lives, their community, and the world. This led them to explore the Micah Challenge, an ecumenical movement dedicated to cutting worldwide poverty in half by 2015. They also support the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals to address poverty, hunger, and injustice.

Relationships, Community, Connection

“People often feel guilty when they become aware of systemic injustice,” Bachous says. “We get overwhelmed—especially when we’re the ones benefiting from an imbalanced system.

“As a student group, we’ve focused on relationships and community so we can experience real connection. Our relationships with each other, grounded in Christ, have resulted in action that leads to growth and effective prayer in our daily lives. The social justice movement isn’t only about economic and social issues; it’s about how we are changed by being active in it.

“This is a movement of hope that’s grounded in God’s overcoming work in the world.”

Hope is what motivates Bachous and Trinity’s Social Justice Chapter to investigate broader issues such as international trade and the effect of so-called “free trade” on developing countries.

The 2007 Farm Bill is a key piece of legislation in the U.S. that has generated heated debate. Critics say that in its current form the bill hurts small farmers in the United States and abroad. The bill is expected to undergo sweeping changes, driven in part by groups working to reduce poverty and promote development in Third World countries.

For Trinity students, the global dynamic related to that legislation is as personal as the fruit in their lunch bag. “We talk about how the choices we make affect people globally,” Bachous explained. “If the banana I eat was introduced into the trade system through unjust means, I am enabling injustice.”

At the same time, the students are developing the expression of the eternal in their daily lives. “As we work to restore people’s lives, God brings us healing as well, and God’s kingdom is restored,” Bachous explained.

“My being rebuilt is the same as Darfur being rebuilt. Our everyday actions can guide us into connectedness with systematic injustice and with our own brokenness.”


Steps Toward Living Justly

There are many practical ways to help bring about justice in your community and around the world. Here are three great opportunities:

  • Whether you're new to justice issues or are a seasoned advocate, join the CRC Justice Seekers Assembly and pre-conference in Washington, D.C., on June 9-12, 2007. Get more information or register for this national launch of the CRC justice movement and congregational engagement planning at kooymank@crcna.org.
  • Is your congregation interested in hunger and food availability in Third World countries? Consider starting a Growing Project with Foods Resource Bank and CRWRC in the U.S. For more information, go to www.foodsresourcebank.org. Canadian CRCs, contact CRWRC’s Val Henschel at henschelv@crcna.ca for information about CRC projects with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
  • To find out how your church can participate in the 2007 legislative campaign to affect the U.S. Farm Bill, go to www.bread.org or call 1-800-822-7323. Bread for the World is urging the U.S. Congress to make changes that will benefit small-scale farmers and rural communities in the United States and in Third World countries.

About the Author

Beth DeGraff is the U.S. media and justice contact with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. CRWRC works in 30 of the world’s poorest countries with small-scale farmers and rural communities affected by inequities in international trade.
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