I’ve struggled with “social justice.” There’s so much injustice in the world and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling overwhelmed, helpless, resentful and guilty. But over the past year, I realized that “fighting injustice” doesn’t have to look like saving the world with lofty ideals and heroic sacrifices; maybe it’s just about putting myself in positions to fall in love with God’s people.
Over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with working with middle school students. Last year, I took a Pipeline Seminar on Refugee communities and tutored in a 7th-8th grade ELL (English Language Learners) class at McClure Middle School. Learning about refugee issues in the classroom made me feel overwhelmed, but getting to know the refugee kids in that class helped me turn that burden into genuine care. Growing to care about those kids inspired me to invest in kids from under-served areas out of a place of love rather than guilt.
Over the summer, I worked as a group leader at UW GEAR UP’s summer camps. 9th and 10th grade students from primarily low-income areas all over the state came to these camps to experience a taste of college and to learn more about how to get there. GEAR UP was really great because I became passionate about a bunch of kids who might’ve otherwise remained a statistic to me. Getting to know and care about different kinds of people has helped me see people that God is passionate about in the statistics of injustice and respond accordingly.
I would definitely encourage you to take the initiative to put yourself in positions to fall in love with God’s people. I think God has entrusted each of us with different parts of his heart and part of our job is to pro-actively represent God’s love to those people he has given us a special passion for. And the great thing is, it’s up to God to provide the power for real change. We don’t have to be powerful, just obedient. If you’re interested in tutoring, check out Pipeline’s website at http://www.washington.edu/uwired/pipeline/. And GEAR UP will be looking for new group leaders soon!