Last year’s UK justice conference is a vivid memory in my mind. Not least because it was just weeks before the world would go into lockdown, but at that point it was still normal to meet with hundreds of others packed tightly into a room.
I was working at the Justice conference, but truthfully was feeling a bit fragile after receiving some sad family news. I came to the conference with my guard up hoping to get through the day and the tasks I had to do the best I could. As usual God had other plans. What followed was a day of deep theological reflection and challenges, learning and soul-fueling worship.
Andy Flanagan led us in a song he had written called ‘You are God, we are not’ including a piece of spoken word by Thandi Gamedze, an incredibly challenging piece that’s lyrics went round and round in my mind for weeks to come.
‘Praise to the God who often feels silent. Praise to the God whose plan isn’t clear. Praise to the God whose world is in chaos. Praise to the God whose peace is secure’
It occurs to me now as I write this how powerful it was that these lyrics were sung by a room full of people with arms outstretched, just weeks before we would go into a year of global lockdowns. The following 18 months for us all I’m sure could be described as a time where God’s plan wasn’t clear, and a time where it was often hard to find that peace amongst chaos. But through it all, we give praise.
Activism can be isolating, campaigning can be hard, especially in a year like the one we’ve just had and are continuing to have as we face the ongoing disruption of Covid-19. It can be easy even at the best of times to fall into the trap of thinking we are acting alone. The justice conference for me is a welcome pitstop, a moment not just to equip and inspire us in our pursuit of justice but for us to come together, to look around and remember we are not alone. To see and hear from people all over the world what God is doing in their lives, in their communities and in their own pursuits for justice. The conference provides a time to come in to land, to plug in, recharge and listen to what God is doing and what he is saying as we get fired up to push on in our own activism and campaigning.
‘The work of justice is not just for justice warriors. To follow Jesus means to care about justice because justice reflects the character of God’ - Eugene Cho, JC 2020
This year will only amplify that. Whilst we cannot stand shoulder to shoulder, we are able to log on and see others from across the world coming together to learn and worship together. Having loved attending the justice conference in person in the UK the last two years I am so excited at the prospect of one united, online global event. A chance to virutaly stand alongside our brothers and sisters as we share, learn and grow together. A time to worship and to wrestle with the burning issues of injustice as one united body.
Whether your cup has run dry or is overflowing, I know that this conference will have something for us all. The work of Justice is not just for Justice warriors. This conference is the same, I encourage you if you haven’t already to get a ticket, to tell your friends and family about it and to tune in on the 22nd ready to be equipped, challenged and inspired.