Last night at youth group we gave you opporunities to explore God’s heart for justice by coming up with plans of action to address t-shirts in your school that are made by companies who use sweatshops, and helping your church offer fair trade coffee so workers get a livable and just wage for their work.
If you are interested in those scenarios, you can find them here
I wanted to share with a few stories of people your age who have caught a glimpse of God’s vision for a better world and lived to make it so. I share these with you to show you that making a difference is possible and something you truly can do.
Also, if you are wondering where do you begin to live out God’s heart of justice in this world. I invite you to check out 21 Day Series – Acts of Justice. It is full of ways you can learn, pray and actively engage in the work of justice. I believe this is a great resource to help live out your faith and work as participants of the building of God’s kingdom.
Here are some encouraging stories for you:
Craig Kielburger and “Free The Children”
One day in 1995, Craig Kielburger, a 12-year old kid from Toronto, was looking through the newspaper for the comics section. While flipping through the pages, he found a story about a Pakistani child named Iqbal Masih, who had just been murdered. Iqbal had spent much of his childhood making carpets, after he was sold into slavery at the age of four. He worked 16 hours a day and had insufficient food and care. When he was 10, Iqbal escaped from slavery and began to tour the world, speaking out against child slavery. Two years later, he was murdered in Pakistan. Some people thought that the carpet industry in Pakistan was responsible for his murder, since Iqbal had brought the industry attention that it didn’t want.
After reading Iqbal’s story, Craig was inspired to take action. Working with a few classmates, he founded the group Free The Children. As more and more kids got involved, the group grew and chapters were established all over the world. Free The Children has since built over 400 primary schools, giving 35,000 children access to education. Craig is now 24 years old, and has traveled the world speaking out in defense of children’s rights. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Craig’s story shows that you can make a difference no matter how old you are. With support from his friends and family, Craig took action and has changed the world.
Immaculata High School
While Craig’s story is inspirational, it can also be a bit intimidating. But you don’t have to found a worldwide organization to make a difference. Several students from Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey, started a program at their high school after spending a week of their summer serving the poor in Trenton, New Jersey’s state capital. Shocked by the poverty they witnessed so close to home, the students felt a need to take action. “What if students in our high school would all donate one dime each school day to fight poverty?” the students wondered. With a fairly large school and plenty of school days, the students figured they could raise a lot of money for an organization devoted to working against poverty. Working with their campus minister and in collaboration with the Center of FaithJustice in Princeton, NJ, the students began their own initiative, getting more students involved. They planned a collection strategy, designed tee-shirts to raise awareness, and started collecting donations in the cafeteria during lunch periods. In its first few weeks, the group collected almost $1,000. The group both raises money to fight poverty and gets all of the students at Immaculata thinking about poverty and what they can do to fight it.
Fair Trade on Campus
At colleges across the country, students have led campaigns to bring fair trade coffee to their campuses. In 2006, students at the College of William and Mary convinced the school’s dining services to offer only fair trade coffee, and similar policies have been instituted at countless schools. With knowledge and widespread support, it is hard for any institution to turn down the adoption of fair trade coffee usage. Workers’ rights are fundamental to Wesleyan social teaching, so convincing a church to start using fair trade coffee is highly feasible.