By Kelly Cameron, Student Mobilization Coordinator, MSW
*This post was originally published in the Canadian Youth Workers Convention Regional Training 2014-15 Magazine.
Today’s teens are some of the most justice minded individuals in our country. Canadian youth reportedly spent a higher proportion of their budgets on foreign aid than the Canadian government, donating about 5% of their money to charities that work outside of Canada (Source: Christianity.ca )
When I first learned about sex trafficking through a high school project I didn’t even think of talking about it with the leader in my church youth group. The idea that stopping the "rape-for-profit” of girls around the globe had any connection to my suburban, upper-middle class church did not cross my mind. I grew up in a great youth group with solid discipleship and relevant teaching, but justice was not something we ever discussed. It wasn’t until I was in university that I started to realize that God saw and cared for the girls that I had read about, and that as a follower of Jesus, He was also calling me to care and act.
In a generation growing up surrounded by issues of injustice how do those of us in youth ministry engage with these students on their justice journey?
In my quest for answers to that question I went to one of the most justice-minded teens I know.
Matty is in many ways a typical 16 year old. We chatted by phone from a summer camp in New Brunswick where she was working as a counsellor. When she was in grade 8, Matty noticed a lot of bullying occurring at her school and "ranted to (her) youth pastor about it”. He suggested that she start doing charitable work within her school to get people to come together, and introduced her to International Justice Mission Canada.
"I was impassioned right away, especially about girls being forced into prostitution,” Matty recalls.
Within the first two weeks of the new school year she had spoken to over 800 students.
Matty began a project called the Justice Awareness Campaign to raise funds and awareness for IJM Canada. She has had the opportunity to speak in schools, universities, and even her town council. Over the last 4 years, Matty has raised over $5000 for IJM Canada. She shares that her youth pastor has offered her continual support through prayer, words of encouragement, and attending her speaking engagements right alongside her parents. She suggests that youth workers support their students on their justice journey by educating them.
"Education is key. If [students] don’t know what’s going on they won’t find the passion to do something about it.”
Youth workers play a vital role in educating, encouraging, and supporting students as they discover their justice journey.
-If the idea of biblical justice is new to you, start by educating yourself. A great free resource is the Roots of Justice bible study provided by IJM Canada. You can download it for free.
-Want to introduce biblical justice to your youth group? Check out IJM’s 24 Hour Justice Experience and download the free Leader’s Guide at www.ijm.ca/24JE.