We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside… but one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road of Jericho needs to be repaved.Martin Luther King Jr., "A Time to Break the Silence"
As Christians and Social Workers we have calling and duty to bring socially unjust norms to justice. This is accomplished through advocacy.
Messiah University students in the social work program are required to take a policy class. In this class students attend the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) PA Chapter Advocacy Day. Here is one student's opinion on advocacy day:
Advocacy day helped me to realize that although I am only one person, I can start a change process. Influential members of our country are not out of reach, and if we take the initiative to speak with them about issues, they can help us address them. ~Beverly Donahue.
There are many programs around the world that advocate for Christian and Social Work values. Programs such as Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, and International Justice Mission advocate for the poor, hungry, and exploited populations in society. If you would like to start advocating today, or would like to see what advocacy looks like then continue reading and click the links to each website.
Bread for the World
"Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. God's grace in Jesus Christ moves us to help our neighbors, whether they live in the next house, the next state, or the next continent. Confronting the problem of hunger can seem overwhelming. What can one person do? Plenty. Bread for the World members write personal letters and emails and meet with our members of Congress. Working through our churches, campuses, and other organizations, we engage more people in advocacy."
Evangelicals for Social Action
"Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) is an association of Christians seeking to promote Christian engagement, analysis and understanding of major social, cultural and public policy issues. ESA's board of directors includes many prominent leaders of moderate and progressive evangelicalism. ESA emphasizes both the transformation of human lives through personal faith and also the importance of a commitment to social and economic justice as an outgrowth of Christian faith."
"Backed by a movement of 2 million ONE members, ONE achieves change through advocacy. We hold world leaders to account for the commitments they've made to fight extreme poverty, and we campaign for better development policies, more effective aid and trade reform. We also support greater democracy, accountability and transparency to ensure policies to beat poverty are implemented effectively. ONE is not a grant-making organization and we do not solicit funding from the general public. As we have always said, at ONE, we're not asking for your money, we're asking for your voice."
A book by Jason Mandryk for Christians who want to pray for the world. This eye opening book will keep you updated on current world events as well as help you advocate for the world through prayer. Operation World lists all the countries in the world as well as a calender so that you pray for every country within a year. The book outlines prayer requests as well as answered prayers from every country.
"Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations. You can help make a real difference by becoming a member or supporter of Amnesty International."
Provides tangible opportunities to advocate in southeastern PA!
"As a leading community impact organization, United Way knows that real and sustained change in community conditions requires more than money. United Way engages decision-makers and policy leaders at the local, state and national levels to help address the most important community needs."
Human Rights Awareness Coalition (here at Messiah!)
"Human Rights Awareness is a coalition that combines several human rights groups on campus to shed light on the many human rights abuses in the world. HRA holds weekly meetings to educate students about issues of human rights abuses, and to connect these to Christian faith, as well as provide opportunities for action locally and internationally."
The following are a few of the national organizations that you can become involved with through Messiah's Human Rights Awareness group:
"We are story tellers. We make documentaries about war-affected children in east Africa and tour them around the world. We use the power of media to inspire young people to help end the longest running war in Africa. Our model has proven effective, and hundreds of thousands of people have been called to action through our films and the volunteers that tour them."
"Sponsoring children in need is breaking the cycle of poverty.
Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training. Today, Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 26 countries."
International Justice Mission
"International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local governments to ensure victim rescue, to prosecute perpetrators and to strengthen the community and civic factors that promote functioning public justice systems. IJM's justice professionals work in their communities in 12 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to secure tangible and sustainable protection of national laws through local court systems."
The NASW of Pennsylvania promotes membership within the organization, professional development, and advocacy. NASW stands for "National Association of Social Workers." The PA chapter has been advocating for bills during the 2009-2010 year.
During 2009 to 2010 the NASW-PA advocated for three different policy changes:
Bachelor's Level Licensure: House Bill: 353 and Senate Bill: 641
"Allowing for those who provide front line human services possess the necessary bachelor's degree and related experience to be licensed." -NASW-PA
School Social Workers: House Bill: 1090 and Senate Bill: 629
"Updating the Pennsylvania School Code to define a social worker and permit that individual to provide social work services in school districts." -NASW-PA
Practice Protection: House Bill: 1250
"Limiting the delivery of social work and clinical social work services to licensed individuals credentialed to provide social work services." -NASW-PA
Visit their website!