- engaging Community
- equipping Deacons
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “Give someone a fish and they have food for a day. Teach them to fish and they have food for a lifetime.” Engaging in community ministry involves assessing the various needs in our neighbourhoods and contributing in more ways than simply “giving them a fish.”
But what happens if we stop after handing out fish or even teaching someone to fish? Shouldn’t we also ask whether they own a fishing rod, or whether they have legal access to the lake, or whether the water is too polluted for the fish to be safe to eat?
Seeking justice involves asking the deeper question about “why” some of our more vulnerable neighbours suffer injustice, and then pursuing an answer which includes the structures (organizations, government etc) of society and how they too can perpetuate the injustice. As we begin to find answers, we create awareness of injustice and speak out for justice through advocacy.
When deacons are installed in the church they are called, in Christ’s name, to both “relieve victims of injustice” and “be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society.” Because they often walk closely with those who experience injustice, deacons have a special opportunity and responsibility to not only respond directly to immediate needs with compassion, but also to promote awareness of injustice and engage in advocacy for justice.
When we, as deacons and church members, are engaged in community ministry, we often become aware of immediate needs of, and receive requests for assistance from, people in a wide variety of circumstances. Walking with people in need and trying to address these needs, we become aware of the various root causes of their challenges.
Diaconal Ministries Canada is committed to helping you and your church find ways of living the biblical call to justice and to mobilize for advocacy. While justice often requires impartiality, there are times when God calls us to partiality, to live out a special concern for the vulnerable groups in our country. We have identified 8 people groups which we feel are vulnerable to injustice in Canadian communities. We have also created resources which will help you understand some of the challenges that people in your community might experience. In these following sections, we provide background information, links to other resources, and suggestions for what you and your church might do to help people in your community meet these challenges.
There are many ways to "do justice". One could learn and act to change an unjust regulation, accompany and advocate for health care for a vulnerable person and pray regularly for changing leadership for those who live under oppressive regimes. There are many ways depending on the needs, passions and the skills of those involved. View other possibilities in the doing Justice as deacons brochure.
Be thoughtful and prayerful in seeking ways to "do justice" on behalf of the marginalized and vulnerable in your circles, your community and your world. Think creatively about ways to get involved using the skills and opportunities that God presents to you!