February 2023 – Be the Change—Go and Do Something! 

February 2023 – Be the Change—Go and Do Something! 

Scripture: Isa. 1:17 NIV

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 

What is Social Justice? 

A quick Google search will result in multiple definitions, which vary depending upon the philosophy and mission of the website linked to the search result. 

In the United States the word “social” might bring up feelings of unease or, depending upon your personal views, even distaste. The word social, in this program, is not meant to reference a political ideology or leaning. The word social, as defined by the dictionary, means: “relating to society or the organization of society.” So, simply stated, social means our practices and interactions with one another as humans. 

As Salvationists, “We Believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.” Because of this belief, we must extend the definition of the word social to include our imago Dei (image of God): A theological term, applied uniquely to humans, which denotes the symbolical relation between God and humanity. Because God created us in His image our practices and interactions with one another as humans (social) must be expanded to include God’s original intent for His creation. 

This brings us to the definition of the word justice. From the Biblical perspective justice is defined as “to make right.” Justice is a relational term—it is people living in right relationship with God and with one another. Social Justice, from a Christian standpoint of faith and practice, is our desire and attempts to help others by meeting their basic human needs, offering opportunities for others to flourish in community with one another, and working to restore and maintain peace in our world.   

The Who and Why of Social Justice:   

Upon returning to London after a campaign in the south of England, General William Booth, had a fitful night of sleep. It would seem that for the first time he noticed that there were men sleeping on the bridges at night. The next day he spoke with his son, Chief of the Staff Bramwell Booth, to emphasize that regardless of the other good things that the Army was already doing he wanted Bramwell to DO SOMETHING about the men sleeping under the bridges. He noticed a need that was going unmet and he recognized that it was his duty as a follower of Christ to do something about it! 

William Booth fully understood Jesus’ words from Matthew 22:36-40: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

General Booth saw people sleeping under bridges at night, recognized them as his neighbors, and then made sure that something was done to improve their human condition. He recognized that social justice is a mandate not a suggestion. 

How Can We Participate:   

In Isaiah 1:17 we read about how God wants us, His imago Dei, to interact with one another. We are told to first learn to do right. Our motivation must be right—we must first be in right relationship with God before we begin “to make right” the world around us. After we are in right relationship with God, we seek to impact our communities by learning to do right, seeking justice, defending the oppressed, taking up the cause of the fatherless, and pleading the case of the widow. 

  • Think about the community you live in. Do some brainstorming with the women by asking:  
  • Are there people in our community who go unnoticed? 
  • Who are the underserved people? 
  • Where do they live? 
  • What systems are in place that need to be changed? 
  • How can our women’s group work together to enact social justice? 

Make a list of projects which could be undertaken by the women’s ministry and do something to make a difference in the lives of others. Following are a few suggestions to get you started: 

Homeless Kits: collect personal care items (toothbrush/paste, soap, trial size shampoo, deodorant), socks, mini-bottled water, snack items, $5 fast food gift cards. Place items in a baggie or other useful container and give them to people in need. Make sure you include a list of community services like shelters, feeding sites, clothing distribution, and other needed services. The short–term and immediate response of a homeless kit is helpful, however, does nothing to help change their homelessness. What are the other factors involved with homelessness? How could your women’s group become advocates to change those factors? 

Peaceful Protest: As a women’s group, gather to stand with those who are disenfranchised and feel voiceless. March with those who are hurting and have little power to change their situation in life. Being an ally or advocate through peaceful protest helps to boost awareness of injustice within our communities. It helps to amplify the voices of people who hold little power to change systems or cultures—in Isaiah’s day, the fatherless and widow’s. 

Hydration and First Aid Stations: perhaps peaceful protests and marches are outside of your comfort zone. Instead of marching, set up a hydration station—pass out water, offer shade, give out sun screen, face masks and other needed items. Offer “free-prayer” stations for those who need emotional and spiritual care. Be present in the moment without being part of the protest—a ministry of presence speaks loudly and breaks down barriers which might otherwise perpetuate injustice.  

Thank You Letters: Write thank you letters/cards to partner agencies in your community who serve alongside The Salvation Army to enact social justice change. Are there groups/organizations that stand out? Many of those involved with social justice get weary along the way. A thank you and acknowledgment of their hard work and dedication will go a long way and may just be the boost needed to continue fighting. 

Clean Water Projects: 1.8 billion people world–wide are forced to use a source of drinking water that is contaminated. Water scarcity affects more than 40% of the global population. According to the United Nations, “Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation related diarrheal diseases.” As a women’s ministry collect monetary donations to be given to your territorial SAWA for use in clean water projects. 

Food Sustainability Projects: Approximately 23.5 million people in the United States of America live in food deserts. Nearly half are also low–income and 2.3 million of those in poverty live in rural areas that are more than 10 miles from a supermarket. As a women’s group you can help people who suffer from food insecurity by volunteering at a food pantry, organizing a food drive, or delivering meals to shut–ins. 

Human Trafficking Awareness: Host an awareness–raising event to watch and discuss films about human trafficking. Learn how modern slavery exists today; watch investigative documentaries about sex–trafficking, or discover how forced labor can affect global food supply chains. Host an event for hotel employees to teach them how to recognize and report suspected human trafficking. 

A United Prayer 

Leader: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17) 

Response: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. 

Leader: A seeker prayed for those who were down trodden, beaten, battered and weary. Seeing the great need around her she prayed, “Oh, great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?” God answered, “I did do something, I made you.” (Sufi Parable) 

Response: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. 

Leader:  Lord, this world is hurting, and it is with our hands that You want to bring comfort. This world is wounded, and it is with our hands that You want to bring healing. This world is divided, and it is with our hands that You want to bring reconciliation.  

Response: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. 

Leader: Hear our prayers, O Lord. Answer us by drawing close to us and by showering us with Your love for others. Thank You for Your presence at this gathering. May we go forth better people; richer in wisdom, friendship, and understanding. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

ALL: Amen 

(Adapted from Catholic Prayers for Healthcare Workers) 

Additional Resources: