By Emily Roenigk, intern with World Relief in Baltimore, shares her new perspective:
Last year, I could have counted on one hand the number of times I had thought about the concept of global justice. I had never looked beyond my own privileges to desire restoration for a world that is broken in ways I may never experience. I was ignorant to this simple truth: desiring justice is inherent to a relationship with Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ desires justice.
In November 2012, Belinda Bauman visited my college small group and shared the heartbreaking stories of women and children who are suffering the unthinkable from an unnoticed war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. To this day, this somber statistic remains with me: Every nine out of ten Congolese women are victims of rape.
In our own lives, my friends and I have experienced pain, loss and even devastation; however, we enjoy the Lord’s gracious blessings of overall spiritual and physical health, education and success. Imagine our sense of inadequacy when Belinda asked us to mourn the pain of these Congolese women. We prayed for shalom, a state of existence for humanity wherein nothing is broken, nothing is missing. For the first time, I prayed for the restoration of a people I have never met and whose pain had no impact on my own life.
I knew that I eventually wanted to use my pending Mass Communications major to “help people,” but I realized then that I was the one who needed help. I need help understanding what is really going on in places that aren’t trending on Twitter, how truly believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God means I am intricately connected to the poor, and how conflicts and injustices wherein I once believed I had no responsibility are worthy of my broken heart.
Over the next couple of months, I followed World Relief’s online updates. Finally, after prayer and consideration, I applied for the International Programs summer internship at World Relief, and to my amazement, I was accepted. I am so fortunate to be learning from the talented staff of World Relief about how we can serve the real needs of the poor while empowering them with dignity and honor. It might take me a lifetime to scratch the surface of what justice really looks like spiritually, relationally, economically, agriculturally, politically and so forth. For now, I’ve learned that at the end of the day, our faith must do something in the way that Jesus’ faith did.
In their book When Helping Hurts, Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert write that it would have been useless for Jesus to merely use words and not actions to declare His Kingdom. We know that Jesus Christ is the Messiah because He not only talks about justice, He does justice. If we are to be the body of Christ, how much more must we?
Emily is a Mass Communications major at Towson University and is interning with World Relief in Baltimore. DRC photos by Christine Anderson