jusTice update – July 2014

Dear friends and supporters of jusTice,

We have just returned from Chennai, India. It’s our second trip to India in partnership with International Justice Mission (IJM) to engage church pastors in thinking around issues of justice from a biblical and theological perspective.

It is always a huge privilege to be invited to take part in a conversation around issues of justice and faith but it is also deeply humbling to hear first-hand the stories of how much it costs to ‘do the right thing’ in contexts where biblical concepts of equality and fairness are very far from the norm. In addition to the stories of bonded slavery there were also personal stories of how seeking to do the right thing makes life so much harder; like the father who took the risk of sacrificing his son’s entry to further education because he refused to cooperate with systemic corruption, or the professional who had blown the whistle on workplace injustice and been sidelined for promotion and eventually forced out of their job.

Seeking to do the right thing is often slow, hard work; there are very few ‘efficient’ short cuts. It is painful to see the woundedness of those who leave the comfort of the cultural highway to forge a new path through the thickets…pioneering a new way of being human…transgressing culturally-accepted norms which don’t measure up with the biblical picture of shalom; the well-being and flourishing of both human and non-human creation.

IJM’s focus is specifically on assisting marginalised individuals and communities in accessing legal justice and in Chennai much of that work revolves around issues of bonded slavery, where generations have been enslaved to ‘pay back’ a small debt. Biblical concepts like the year of jubilee are deeply relevant in such contexts and yet they are far away from the public imagination. The radical scope of the biblical vision in the contexts of many of our empire-building and unequal cultures is breath-taking. It begs the question…how can we dare to hope for change?

At the heart of the biblical vision for justice is the hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God to complete His work of reconciling and renewing all things. That reconciling work came by the way of the cross, and in contexts such as India it is particularly easy to see the sufferings which accompany the kind of faithful discipleship of which the apostle Peter speaks in 1 Peter 4:12-13.

One of the starting points of a journey of justice is the recognition of injustice in our world and lament is an appropriate response to the chronic and sometimes severe and brutal effects of injustice in our communities. As we engaged in some teaching around themes of lament one pastor shared how his wife was a composer and a number of her songs of lament were written from the perspective of the abused and disabled children they worked with. She sings these songs of lament in churches and schools and often teachers and children weep as they hear them. Changes of perspective and attitude take place which begins to change the culture of the school environment. Lament had turned hearts of stone into hearts of flesh…compassion opened the way for a tangible change.

Howard Zinn emphasises the ‘infinite succession of presents’ in which our actions determine the future…

 ‘To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.’

Other news

1. Carnival Kingdom: biblical justice for global communities book

Last year saw publication of Carnival Kingdom which we co-edited with Jonathan Ingleby & Marijke Hoek. Sales continue to be encouraging, but we know that there are many more places where we would like to see the book made available and publicised.

More information can be found here: Publisher: Wide Margin, Facebook Page: Carnival Kingdom

If you would like to buy a copy, or more, for your organisation, please contact us, as we can offer discounts on multiple copies. We are beginning to think through some further book projects for the next couple of years, including a booklet on biblical advocacy.

2. jusTice on the road

In addition to the recent India trip, we presented internal research findings at Latin Link’s international assembly in Ecuador in February, within a keynote talk on the biblical and missional imperative for justice, along with a couple of seminars to explore issues that missionaries are engaging with on the ground. This followed our engagement at mission-net, Europe’s largest youth mission congress, in Germany at the start of the year, where we coordinated the justice stream, including contributions from Micah Challenge and A Rocha. In early July (8th) we speak at the Justshare network at St. Mary-le-Bow (http://www.justshare.org.uk/), and In late August we lead a justice retreat near Madrid, Spain.

 3. Redcliffe College – Justice MA programme

  • Redcliffe’s new Contemporary Missiology MA retains the justice modules as a specialist stream within the programme. If you are interested in further study, more information can be accessed on Redcliffe’s website at http://www.redcliffe.org/Courses/Postgraduatecourses/ContemporaryMissiology
  • The next Environment Day conference, in collaboration with the John Ray Initiative and A Rocha, is set for 7th March 2015 at Redcliffe College, on the topic of climate change. Andy will be leading a seminar on the effects of climate-induced migration, exploring the role of the church in mitigating/adapting to this increasing reality and being a conduit of hope
  • We hope a post for a ‘scholar in residence’ at Redcliffe College could be available in the next couple of years – if you know of anyone interested, particularly from the Global South, then please encourage them to contact us. We are also looking for placement opportunities for undergraduate students and also research possibilities, both for students at Redcliffe College and the initiative more generally

 4. Resourcing and social media

Please pray that we will be able to secure the funding needed to continue to develop the initiative. It is a faith-based ministry; if you would like more information on our financial needs, or would like to give, please let us know. You can follow us on twitter (@just_mission), subscribe to our blog at https://justiceadvocacyandmission.wordpress.com/, like our facebook pages (jusTice initiative and Carnival Kingdom), or check out our website (www.justice-initiative.com). This August, we plan to do some more thinking and planning for the initiative’s work in the coming academic year, and in particular hope to develop our social media presence further., interest and support.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support

Andy & Carol 

Advocating for justice and reconciliation at Redcliffe College

Today marks another milestone in the development of Redcliffe’s new MA course, Justice, Advocacy & Reconciliation in intercultural contexts. Having completed the module, Just Mission, the students will be starting the Advocacy, Reconciliation & Peacebuilding module, which marks our engagement in some innovative partnerships, promising to bring a rounded and dynamic learning experience.

After working initially through the biblical basis of advocacy, the next few days will see visits by Dr. Marijke Hoek, Dr. Khataza Gondwe, Christine Allen & Sue Richardson. Dr Marijke Hoek, is co-author with Justin Thacker of Micah’s Challenge: The Church’s Responsibility to the Global Poor, and co-editor of the recently-published book Carnival Kingdom; biblical justice for global communities, and her experience working with Micah Challenge and the business and media world in Manchester will help the students to think of creative ways for the Christian community to engage positively and practically in civil society. Dr. Gondwe is Team Leader, Africa and Middle East at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and will be drawing attention to religious freedoms and persecution. We will finish the week with visits from Christian Aid’s Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Christine Allen, and Sue Richardson, Regional Coordinator. The students will be critiquing the theology and approach of these organisations in response to the presentations made, as one of their assignments – a key dimension of this module is the praxis-focus and the tools that will be provided for students to learn how to connect rigorous theology with a practical missiology that has value beyond the classroom.

The second part of this new module takes us to Coventry Cathedral’s ministry of the Cross of Nails, and in particular to St. Michael’s House. Canon David Porter, recently appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new Director of Reconciliation, will lead a 2 day intensive course on reconciliation and peace-building. This new partnership is an exciting development for Redcliffe’s MA programme and will provide the students with a unique contextual learning experience.

If you, or any friends/colleagues, are interested in the Justice MA programme, we would be very happy to hear from you – more detailed course content can be found here, or email Carol or myself at akingstonsmith@redcliffe.org or ckingstonsmith@redcliffe.org, for further info. Essentially, this new course can be done full-time in 1 year, or part-time over 2 to 4 years. Modules are normally done in intensive blocks during the course of the academic year, or during Redcliffe’s May summer school, each year. This MA programme is accredited by the University of Gloucestershire.

Justice as the Mission of God

Last night Redcliffe College hosted Joel Edwards, International director for Micah Challenge as guest speaker at the World Christianity Lecture on a topic close to our hearts. The presentation will soon be available on you tube and the full transcript of the talk will be made available on our new website.

His opening thoughts included a powerful quote from Tom Wright’s Simply Christian as follows:

“We dream the dream of justice. We glimpse, for a moment, a world at one, a world put to rights, a world where things work out, where societies function healthily, were I not only know what I ought to do but actually do it. And then we wake up and come back to reality. But what are we hearing when we dream that dream?”

It was an excellent and challenging lecture which emphasised the importance of correcting our faulty biblical interpretations of concepts of holiness, righteousness and justice which ought to be viewed and practised as fully integrated rather than mutually exclusive elements of Christian faith in action. Justice is about God-empowered citizenship which participates in all aspects of life both private and public in order to witness to the goodness and shalom of God’s kingdom, as Joel summarises:

Justice is the catalysing arrangement, which bridges the gap between our relationship with God and our material relationship with those around us.

There will be more to follow but meanwhile please take a look at Micah Challenges excellent group resource The Jesus Agenda .

Justice as the Mission of God – public lecture by Joel Edwards at Redcliffe College, Gloucester

The inaugural Justice and Mission Lecture will take place on Tuesday 13 November 2012, 7.30-9.30pm at Redcliffe College (for more about Redcliffe, see below).

Justice is a central part of God’s character and his mission. Even so, it can be challenging to work out what justice as the mission of God means in practice. Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge (see further details below), will give us a biblical and theological overview of the theme of justice as it relates to the character and mission of God. He will also explore some of the key global trends and issues facing today’s church in these areas.

During the evening we will also give a brief presentation about the jusTice initiative, focusing on issues of justice, advocacy and reconciliation in mission.

To Book
The lecture is free but pre-booking is required. For more information and to book your place, fill in the booking form at redcliffe.org/justice-and-mission-lecture, or email, events@redcliffe.org or call 01452 308097.

About Joel Edwards
Rev Joel Edwards is the International Director for Micah Challenge, a global Christian response to extreme
poverty. Joel was also co-Chair of Micah Challenge from 2004-2007. Prior to his role within Micah Challenge, Joel was General Director of the Evangelical Alliance UK, a post he held for over 10 years. Joel is committed to harmonise matters of faith in the public square, and to advocate on behalf of the world’s poor.

Joel holds a number of other roles, including serving as an Advisory Member of Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation, and was formerly a Commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission for the UK. He regularly contributes to radio 4’s ‘thought for the day’.

About Redcliffe College
Redcliffe is an internationally-recognised Centre for Mission Training in Gloucester. All of Redcliffe’s faculty, and many other staff, have experience in cross-cultural mission, and their teaching is supplemented by associate faculty and visiting scholars from around the world.

Redcliffe’s specialist centres provide excellent resources in many aspects of mission, including the Bible and mission, mission in Europe and leadership.

The College’s graduates work in over 95 countries around the world, many holding significant roles within their

We hope you will be able to come to this lecture, which promises to be stimulating and engaging,

Andy & Carol

New Justice, Advocacy and Reconciliation MA at Redcliffe College – commencing September 2012

Are you interested in understanding God’s heart for justice, for the poor, the needy and the powerless? Do some of the great issues of our time interest you; economic inequality, climate change and the Biblical mandate to be advocates for those who have no voice? This new MA might be just what you re looking for!

The University of Gloucestershire recently validated the course, which we feel will be an important contribution to the training needs of cross-cultural workers who may be going into contexts around the world where inequality and injustice is prevalent, and want to understand how to marry the biblical teaching with unjust realities on the ground; likewise for those already engaged in such issues in their work with charities, NGOs and churches, who wish to develop their theological and missiological understanding.

The course is flexible and can be done over one year (full-time) or 2-4 years (part-time), and consists of an introductory module to missiological trends and issues (MA1), justice issues in intercultural contexts (socio-political, economic and environmental) (MA14) and a specialist module on Advocacy and Reconciliation in intercultural contexts (MAJ1) delivered in conjunction with the Ministry of the Cross of Nails at Coventry Cathedral. The fourth module is an elective one with a number of options. You will also be able to do an in-depth dissertation on a justice-related subject.

Here is a link to the new course at the Redcliffe website at: – www.redcliffe.org/justice-ma,

More specific detail of the course content can be accessed at:- http://www.redcliffe.org/Portals/0/Content/Documents/Study/2012-13%20course%20information/MA%20in%20Justice_Studies_12_13.pdf

Feel free to email us at akingstonsmith@redcliffe.org or ckingstonsmith@redcliffe.org for more information.