I’m away for meetings this week, so I asked one of my colleagues, Hannah Cribb, if she would write a guest post for me. Given that we like our staff to challenge themselves and grow and develop, in all areas of their lives, I thought it would be great to hear from her about what has challenged her during her time at Tearfund.
Hannah is the campaigns intern in Tearfund’s advocacy department. You can find her on Twitter: @HannahCribb.
I’ve been an intern in Tearfund’s advocacy department for six months now and I’ve learned so much. I’ve failed, I’ve been challenged and I’ve been encouraged by the amazing changes happening around me.
I have to admit, before Tearfund I didn’t really know that we are living outside our limits. We’re exploiting our planet because the current systems put profits before people. We champion cheap energy before thinking about climate change and investing in sustainable alternatives. And although there’s enough food for everyone, we continue to accept economic systems that distribute the world’s resources unfairly and mean poor people stay poor. This isn’t how Jesus intended it to be.
At the root of poverty is a breakdown of relationships. Genesis teaches us that God created us as stewards of the earth: ‘God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’ (2:15). But as we go on to read later in the chapter, we thought we knew best and decided to go our own way instead. But God didn’t give up. He still had a plan to make his creation flourish again. The person of Jesus has shown us that we can unlock people’s potential because injustice is not God’s way.
As Christians we are called to ‘defend the cause of the poor and needy’ (Jeremiah 22:16) and although I’ve always cared about the environment, I have come to understand that living and acting justly cannot be separated from living and acting sustainably. Over the last couple of months I’ve been on a personal journey to make the way I shop, eat and live more sustainable. I have to admit I haven’t always found it easy. It’s expensive to buy local food, it’s miserable to walk to church in the rain instead of jumping in the car, and I don’t always find what I want from charity shops on those Saturday afternoon hunts. I’m trying to use less water but I find it so hard to get out of the shower on cold Monday mornings.
But my attitude is shifting, as I continue to remember I am part of a larger system. Although fairtrade food might be more expensive, knowing who grows my food and how they are treated helps me decide where I spend my money. Yes it may be miserable to walk to church in the rain instead of driving but at least I’m not pumping more CO2 into the world. And maybe I need to stop thinking about what I want and just be happy with all the blessings I already have, when my local charity shops don’t have the thing I’m looking for at that particular time. It is so important to remember how our lifestyles are contributing to global systems because although many of us know and understand global inequality and human contribution to climate change is an issue, our behaviours aren’t changing – mine certainly wasn’t. We have to remember that when we choose the cheap or easy option, someone somewhere else in the world may be paying too high a price for our actions and choices.
As well as choosing sustainable and just lifestyles, as Christians we are called to speak out for the poor. Jesus challenged cultural practices, confronted the powerful and was an advocate for the oppressed. As Christ is intercessor on our behalf, so we should speak up with and for others. We must push world leaders to make ambitious decisions and act on injustice and climate change. Being an advocate for justice and sustainability not only prevents us from contributing to the problem but also provides an opportunity to bring something better.
The work I have been involved in at Tearfund gives me hope that there is a shift happening. Meeting passionate people who are living justly and sustainably has inspired me and I am sure will continue to inspire me. I am excited that there is a movement of people who are working to challenge the current consumer-centred pattern we seem to be stuck in. As I come to the end of my internship I am keen to continue to contribute to that movement in the work I do, as well as continuing the journey of adapting my everyday choices to enable me to live more justly and sustainability.
As you have read about my struggles and the journey I am on, I wonder if you have been challenged. What could you change today to live a more just and sustainable life?