A New Start | Advocacy

15 Mar 2017

ADVOCACY
noun/public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

Every person is created in the image of God, with inherent dignity, value, and voice. However, sometimes our systems and structures can silence particular voices and often those voices belong to those who are vulnerable and marginalised. As a Sisterhood we have always endeavoured to pursue justice, so we pray, we give, and we seek to use what is in our hand, which includes raising our voice.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8, 9). One practical and effective way to raise your voice is by contacting your local government member to share what you and your local church believe in and stand for. Policy makers are elected to uphold and represent the views of those in the communities they represent. That’s YOU. You and your church have the opportunity to frame national discussions that lead to decisions that will bring change within our borders and beyond. We have prepared this ‘ADVOCACY TOOLKIT’ to help you!

The first thing that we all have to do is work out what we do believe and are willing to advocate on. In this we don’t want to usurp the role of your church or denomination and therefore we are not giving you a definitive statement or position paper to advocate from, we just want to give you the tools to help you to raise your voice about what YOU have convictions about. We don’t want to engage in the politics of this issue, only justice.

We encourage you to do your own research – including talking with your local church Pastor about their position on issues regarding refugees, asylum seekers and immigration and looking at your denomination’s position – to help frame what you and/or your church believe and you can advocate from that position.

We want to help equip and support you to raise your voice and speak up for refugees and those seeking safety however that looks for you.

A BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO REFUGEES.
Every human being, regardless of race, religion, gender or background is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27) and is therefore of equal value to God. This means that every person should be treated justly and with respect bearing in mind that at Creation the earth was intended to be developed for the common good not just for the fortunate few (Genesis 1:28).

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to be good to the foreigner in the land remembering that they were once foreigners and slaves in Egypt (Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33,34; Deuteronomy 10:17-19). They were also to show justice to the vulnerable (Leviticus 24:22; Zechariah 7:10). In doing so they were reflecting the inclusive, merciful and loving nature of God.

In the New Testament Jesus reaffirmed this attitude towards the stranger and those in need (Matthew 25:35-45) and he expressed such care as something that is done not only for the stranger but also to him. In addition we are called to show hospitality to the stranger (Hebrews 13:2) and to those who are not in a position to return it (Luke 14:12-14).

This is all summed up in the command to love God and love our neighbour as we do ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). In case we are tempted to think that our neighbour is only our fellow Christian, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) which makes it clear that our neighbour is anyone who has a need and that it includes even those who could be regarded as our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48; Isaiah 16:3)

As the church, while respecting our government and the law (Romans 13:1-5), we should be a safe and inclusive community for all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers both in practical actions (Matthew 7:12) and in public advocacy (Proverbs 31:8, 9).