For SuNica's Sake and Mine
For me as a Christian, doing justice work has become something of a paradox. Because to do it long and well we have to believe two contradictory ideas: that making the world just is entirely up to God and, at the same time, that God has left the task of justice up to us.*
I don’t understand it. But after ten years of working alongside the poor––and almost quitting in the process––I’ve come to believe that learning to live in this tension is key to serving them well.
I am raising support to work with SuNica because it gets this.
The history of Christian community development has shown that faith and good intentions, by themselves, result in mediocre projects at best and harmful negligence at worst.** But in rejecting this (as we should) some, like me, began to think of working for justice as a purely technical exercise, driven only by effort and skill.
And if this is more than a job to you, that’s a big problem. Because at some point, you will fail. You might not be responsible. You might have tried your hardest and used the best tools. It doesn’t matter. If you believe that someone's Hope depends on you, failure is devastating.
And that’s what happened to me. After nearly six years of work in Nicaragua, I was a mess. A volcanic eruption destroyed the project that had been the culmination of my career. I couldn’t raise enough money to pay the bills. And I was so depressed by the constant, senseless obstacles that I started to feel like trying was pointless.
I would have quit if it wasn’t for faith.
Over the course of a year, through simple practices––morning devotions, church small group, a few days in the woods––Jesus reminded me that He is King and that He loves this country more than I ever could. The process was wonderfully ordinary; what surprised me was that I would have expected it to feel like permission to quit. But God's encouragement had the exact opposite effect: believing He was in charge gave me every reason to keep going.
I was introduced to SuNica just as I was coming around. So when Josh told me what they needed: administrative assistance so he could focus on pastoring SuNica’s team, help to develop a curriculum about connecting faith and justice, more data collection and project management, I had every reason to offer to help.
SuNica understands that growing spiritually and professionally are equally necessary to achieving its mission. There will be failures temptations to use God as an excuse for shoddy work. But SuNica is preparing itself, and I’d like to help, for SuNica’s sake and mine.
* Paraphrased from Slow Kingdom Coming, a fantastic book just out on how to practice justice.
**When Helping Hurts is great on this, if you want to know more.