Micah Challenge is a global movement of Christian agencies, churches, groups and individuals which aim to deepen people’s engagement with the poor and to help reduce poverty as an integral part of our Christian faith.
I have now reached the end of my Micah Challenge Voices For Justice experience for 2010. Yesterday after I blogged I got to use my Unaccompanied Pass a bit more, which equalled nicer food in the staff cafes.
However I did do some constructive stuff…
I went to a panel on Prophetic Engagement with Politics and Society featuring Dave Andrews and Deb Storie. They spoke about how to imaginatively engage the world with the message of God’s justice through prophetic acts. For those who aren’t aware, my PhD is in interface between the prophet and the public sphere, so it was nice to hear the prophetic being spoken about in a way that I resonated with, and not in some esoteric, self-projected sense (as I find is normally the case).
I also went to a workshop on How AusAID Works and Budget Process with Chris Elstoft. Sounds boring but it was enlightening.
At one point I called Dana Vale’s office to try and get a meeting, but was turned away with a staff member saying she was too busy. Oh well…
In the late afternoon I attended a policy forum featuring Bob McMullan, the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance. It was interesting to see the Australian politicians engage with the third-world perspective of Roshan Mendis – I think we have much to learn. After that I went to a TEAR supporters dinner which was a bit of fun.
At midday today My lobby group had a meeting with Scott Morrison, the MP for my electorate of Cook. I think we all felt mixed about the result, as Mr. Morrison was supportive in some ways, but also unwilling to speak beyond his Party, especially in regard to climate change. Despite this I would certainly welcome any future opportunity to dialogue with Mr. Morrison about the MDGs and related issues.
Sadly I am now about to head home (not too sad, I turned 25 today so it should be fun when I get home). I have highly values my time with Micah Challenge Voices For Justice over the last 4 days in Canberra, having engaged in the political process at a deeper level on behalf of the poorest people in the world. I will certainly be back next year, and I hope you are here with me!
Here I am, third day in. I didn’t get to blog last night, as I went straight to bed after sessions finished…
The reason for such laziness was so that I could get up at 5:30 to get to Parliament House on time for a session with PM Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. More about that later.
Yesterday was a great day (once again). I did some sessions on Climate Change and Political Policy Making, which were both incredibly helpful. At night we ran a public service of repentance out the front of Parliament House, hearing from Roshan Mendis (our international guest from Sri Lanka) and others about the needs in our world and the need for a personal response in the way w live our lives individually and collectively. It was a powerful experience to stand with 300 others Christians who care about justice, kindness and the political process (it is always pleasant when your leftie views don’t get you labelled a heretic dog…).
This was followed by a vegetarian barbeque. Now, you might be wondering what is in a vegetarian sausage… but let me assure you they taste almost identical to regular sausages, which begs the question; what is in a normal sausage??!!
Anyway, today has been fairly eventful. As I mentioned we began the day with a session which included speeches by Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. The incredible exposure of Micah Challenge was reflected in this event, and it was an incredible privilege to be a part of such an organisation.
After this my lobby group had a meeting with Sharon Bird MP for Cunningham. We talked about climate change, foreign aid and foreign health policies. Overall it was a highly positive meeting with Ms. Bird, who pledged to be an advocate for the goals of Micah Challenge in the ALP.
So now I’m sitting in the Parliament House Staff Cafe (helps to have an Unaccompanied Visitor Pass – access all areas!). Looking forward to more meetings (have one with Scott Morrison tomorrow and trying to get Dana Vale aswell) so please keep praying for us as we attempt to bring foreign aid and climate change to the forefront of the political agenda.
Well, I’m sitting down typing this, waiting for the last session of the day to begin. Today has been a great day – thought-provoking, encouraging, challenging…
Arrived in Canberra about lunch time before hitting registration and then the first session with Dave Andrews talking about “The Be-Attitudes: Be The Change You Want To See In The World.” Dave spoke about the Beatitudes as a way of life set forth by Jesus for his followers requiring them to identify with the poor, mourn with them, desire justice, demonstrate integrity and respond non-violently to injustice done against oneself. This was followed soon after by a time of repentance – we must live the kind of lives we tell others to live.
I then sat in on an elective run by Dave Andrews entitled “Facilitating Social Change Through Community Development” where he answered questions about that topic. Dave’s proposed method on how to enact change in the context of systems and institutions went something like;
1. Don’t be conformed, but be committed to transformation (Romans 12).
2. Be smart about it – be as conformed as you can without compromising your commitment to transformation (Romans 13).
3. Look for a sponsor – someone higher up in the system to protect you and create space for you.
4. Find a couple of supporters – people who may be on the same level as you in the system but who will work with you.
5. Have a long term strategy – changing a regime does not change the system, and overthrowing the people on the top will only change the regime.
6. Have a short term strategy – simply moving up the chain of the system doesn’t help, as the people at the top are just as captive to it as anyone. Experiment on the edge – it doesn’t threaten anybody, and if you succeed the system may accept you and you may just transform it.
7. Subvert relationships – Make friends with all people so that no one holds the power.
8. Hold your experiment out on the edge as long as possible – Allow the system to collapse (like all systems eventually do) and this will give you the opportunity to bring your experiement into the institution as it is. This will transform the system.
Dave Andrews is an absolute freak (in the best possible way). His perspective on things is inspiring and challenging, and requires your full attention. I hope to hear much more from him over the next three days.
In other news, my Micah Challenge group has meetings with Sharon Bird (Member for Cunningham) on Monday and Scott Morrison (Member for Cook [my electorate] and Shadow Immigration Minister) on Tuesday. Please pray for us, that our meetings will have a lasting impact and will help make a transformation in Australia and the world, even if only small.
Tomorrow I am heading to Canberra to take part in Voices For Justice, the Micah Challenge national gathering. They’ve asked that I blog about it as the days roll on, so over the next four days I’ll be posting some reflections about what I’ve experienced.
It should be a challenging time, not just for myself, but also for our politicians, many of whom members of Voices For Justice will be meeting with to discuss the Millennium Development Goals and Australia’s commitment to aid and development.
Make sure you check back here over the next few days to see what we are all up to! Also please pray for us (if that’s your thing) that we would be able to make a difference in the way our politicians see the millions of people all over the world who need their support.