As a teenager, my world has been completely changed by experiencing social justice in action. I have been twice now to East Indonesia with Compassion Australia. These trips have challenged the way I see myself, the world around me and my role as a servant for the Kingdom. Mercy ministries are a powerful tool, especially in the self-indulgent, materialistic world that teenagers in Australia are trapped in.
Travelling with Compassion Australia to the poverty stricken cities of East Indonesia has been some of the hardest yet most worthwhile things I have ever done. Since returning for the first time, I haven’t looked at poverty the same way. Experiencing real poverty, being part of the everyday lives of people who are struggling to provide for their families and have no access to clean water, dramatically shifts your perspective. Building relationships with these people, praying with them and living in their shoes for a while is an incredible blessing. It clears the way for real passion and a very active kind of love. Seeing poverty and the solution to poverty in action made me re-think the role I play in it all. I realised that I am exactly like my brothers and sisters living in poverty. They are real people, with real hopes for the future. Therefore my response must be equally as real.
These experiences have changed the way I see myself; I must be a part of the solution to poverty, I must have an active part in creating the equality the world was meant to have. I have far more power than I believed. I can and must make a difference. But it’s much more than that, it changed the way I thought about myself as a follower of Jesus. When Jesus told his followers to pick up their crosses and follow him, this is what he meant. It’s the beatitudes in action. It’s washing feet. It’s an essential part of service to the Kingdom. God’s people were meant to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I am absolutely no exception to this, and the trips with Compassion showed me this.
My insight trips have given me a fresh view of the world I’m sold. As a teenager I am told that the most important thing that I will ever do is get the perfect body and have a good time in life. Society doesn’t want me to know that over three billion people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day. It wants me to buy into the lies that having the right clothes, the right friends, the right marks in school, are more important than living my life for others. Your churches mustn’t let their teenagers be fooled by the world they live in. I have no doubt that without family, mentors and church communities who value service to others and encouraged me to take my part, I would not have had these life altering experiences. You have a unique opportunity to foster a culture of social justice in your youth groups and churches. Don’t let that opportunity slip away, don’t sell your teenagers short.