The Micah Mandate
An active concern for social justice is integral to Christian living. Many Christian millennials in Singapore have sensed God's calling to an area of ministry concerned with social justice. However, they often struggle to incorporate this into their lives because of competing interests and priorities, as well as feelings of inadequacy that may lead them to think that social justice is “not for them”. How can Christian youth and young adults overcome these barriers and strengthen their witness for Christ?
On 23 February 2019, around 40 students and young professionals joined Reverend Andrew Morley, President and CEO of World Vision International, for an exposition of Micah 6:8 and a dialogue on his experience of juggling and reconciling his professional responsibilities in the marketplace with deepening involvement in holistic ministry before joining World Vision. Andrew shared personal accounts of how God brought him from the realm of digital and media businesses into the humanitarian space, as well as lessons that could help attendees renew their own commitment to serving the poor and vulnerable. Deborah Wee and Christabel Chan, both students from the National University of Singapore, share their reflections:
An up-close-and-personal dialogue with Reverend Andrew Morley, as he shared personal testimonies and gave a biblical exposition of Micah 6:8 with over 40 students and young professionals.
One of the best takeaways from the session was about sequencing: we first believe, and in the process of being transformed by faith and inspired by the Spirit, we can focus our hearts and minds on the doing. As we seek to pursue social engagement in the context of Christian ministry, a point of internal tension that frequently comes up is that of not always having a heart for the community whom we may be called to serve. There are many different underprivileged communities who can be blessed through the service of others; but at times, we don’t feel as strong a burden for communities outside our regular comfort zones or outside areas of need that we can personally identify with. We may fail to appreciate how truly underprivileged such communities are, and fail to empathise with the emotions of the people in those communities. There are many causes that we should feel an emotional connection for, but we as flawed sinners are unable to do so. How are we to reconcile our hearts with the call to action?
That is where the love of Jesus comes in. Sometimes, the ‘doing’ may precede the point at which our hearts are moved for a community that we might not have felt strongly for before. Interaction with a community in need can do wonders in breaking our hearts for what breaks God's and open us up to loving that community as God has called us to. At the same time, we should continue to take active steps in prayer for the burdens that have long been placed on our hearts.
I strongly believe in works as a consequence of faith and works as evidence of faith. They demonstrate that we have been transformed and are willing to die to self. We need to pray to be transformed by God before we head into the mission field. We need Jesus and we need God every step of the way, to open the eyes of our hearts and make our hearts malleable to His calling and will, so that we may be vessels of His love for His people.
- Deborah Wee
The “Micah Mandate” affirms God’s heart for social justice: to defend the cause of the widow, the fatherless and the alien, to ensure everyone can live with dignity. Often I feel that the Church in Singapore has been so caught up with trying to grow our churches (both in numbers and in assets) that we have somewhat neglected this vital calling that God has placed upon us. Most of us have become used to our comforts and conveniences, even in church. The vulnerable people groups whom God has called us to protect can seem to us to be somewhere far off, out of sight and out of mind. Granted, most churches do have social engagement arms, but the attention to social justice seems to me to have been, by and large, disproportionately small.
As individual Christians with a heart to serve, sometimes there is a tendency to adopt a fatalistic view: will I be able to make a difference? This talk, and particularly the introduction it provided to the type of community engagement World Vision undertakes, was a good reminder of how there are ways in which we can make a small but meaningful difference in the lives of communities in need. The financial support offered by World Vision’s supporters is multiplied in its impact because it is channelled towards strengthening communities as a whole, and not simply individual children or families. This approach enables people in these communities to build their livelihoods in a more sustainable manner, and helps to create environments in which children can thrive.
Another good reminder came from how prayer undergirds all of World Vision’s projects and engagements. We should always seek to walk alongside the Spirit in whatever we do, and by God’s grace we will love our neighbours the way God has loved us. Social justice may seem like a big and daunting idea, but perhaps a good starting place is being aware of our neighbours in need, and learning to look at them with the lens of God’s love.
- Christabel Chan