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Rising to be Change-Makers

The challenges people face became real to me as a child through my parents’ work—my Dad worked as a foundry manager and my Mom as an advocate for at-risk families at the public school. At an early age, I understood the strain and trauma of poverty from their work.

The challenges people face communally and globally are broad and complicated. Young people learn by example, just as I witnessed my parents engaging injustice.

When we rise as change-makers, they will too.

As adults we have a great capacity to equip young people early on to welcome, serve, and tackle tough issues. When we rise as change-makers, they will too.

Here are twelve ways to begin your own family or group journey towards becoming change-makers:
  1. Go deep into the Bible lessons of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus’ work on earth centered around those who were considered less-than and marginalized. Jesus offered improbable love to us all with his death on the cross. He’s our example.
  2. Create margin space in your schedule for social justice. When we are too busy, it is hard to respond well. This allows us to slow down enough see needs and be able to respond intentionally.
  3. Read widely and well on social justice issues as a family. Expand your bookshelves to include authors, illustrators, characters, and stories from different races and ethnicities. (Some great places to start looking are Lee and Low Publishers, CitizenKid, Here We Read, and ProjectLIT.)
  4. Encourage conversation around current events. Ask questions around the dinner table or while driving in the car.
  5. Know history. Be honest about the ugly chapters. Again, widen the resources, books, films, and voices you listen too.
  6. Remember that each person has a story. When we listen to our neighbors and community, we center voices other than our own. Listening can be a powerful tool of engaging the work of social justice. When we understand varying perspectives our solutions to injustice become stronger.  
  7. Create new habits and traditions around advocacy. Go to a demonstration together. Write an advocacy letter. Kids remember things they did repeatedly together as a family or special group.
  8. Gather a group to collaborate. When gifts and strengths combine,  our reach multiplies. We’re stronger together.
  9. Be in proximity to the needs in your own community. Know what social justice issues the people around you struggle with. What systems could you help change to make a difference?
  10. Assess your family or group’s unique background, gifts, and strengths and decide what justice work might be the best fit. There may be social justice issues you are specially equipped to tackle like clean water, education, hunger, or racial reconciliation.
  11. Explore the ways that people are using their creativity and innovation to find answers and give hope to real problems. Exciting work happens every day and we can come alongside others to support those efforts.
  12. Pray. Pray for humility, the ability to listen, and strength to come alongside others with the compassionate love of Christ.

I wrote And Social Justice for All to empower families, leaders, and teachers to take steps like these. The book offers hundreds of resources to dive into the work of engaging social justice.

This prayer I leave with you—as I do with the readers of And Social Justice for All.

We must not look away.

Draw up in proximity.

Be a fierce light.

A sanctuary.

Do not let injustice stand.


Let this be written:

We listened.

We were a people who cared

Deeply, openly, and expansively

For all of God’s people.        

You can order And Social Justice for All here

[Photo by Jessica Podraza on Unsplash]


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