Prayer, Justice & Students
“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”
(Common Prayer: A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals, Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)
Lately this prayer of blessing has really struck me. Its words have been catching me by surprise and holding my attention. I recently read it aloud at the end of a training event I facilitated for Just Love groups based in Scotland. While reading it, I felt the words hold a powerful authority over the room of 30 students. The blessing resonated with many there as it proclaimed God’s hope, grace and truth. This prayer has become my prayer for Just Love. I want students to believe and know that they not only have influence, but that they can and will make an impact in this world.
Since graduating in June I’ve been working for Just Love as their Scotland Coordinator. My role involves supporting and engaging students to pursue God’s heart for justice. While I have only been in the job for six months, I believe I am witnessing the start of a shift in student culture. I’m starting to see a generation of students awaken to injustice in their universities, cities and world.
Over the past six months the story of Just Love in Scotland has been wild and unexpected. We’ve seen two new groups start in Dundee and Edinburgh, while our groups in Glasgow and St Andrew’s have grown in confidence and depth. In every community there are students who are deeply passionate about building God’s kingdom. What I’ve noticed, however, is that justice is being etched out through rhythms of prayer and sabbath. Students I work with are seeking God out in varied, creative and authentic ways as they look step into the chaos of injustice.
Of late the Just Love group in Glasgow organised a retreat based on the theme of sabbath, taking 40 students away to explore how prayer and reflection could enhance their campaigns. While in St Andrew’s, the community, alongside the Christian Union and various churches, held a week of 24-7 Prayer as they sought prayer for their friends, their town and global justice issues.
Attitudes seem to be shifting and hope seems to be mounting. Students are realising that change in Scotland and beyond is possible. But amidst all this are individuals who value and seek prayer, tuning into what God is doing and where God is moving. I have had countless discussions with students who are desperate for Jesus to be at the centre of their campaigns, events and communities.
A recent conversation I had with a student involved in the new group in Edinburgh resonated with me. He stated that his desire for their group is that they would be “praying without ceasing”. He wants Just Love Edinburgh to be rooted in prayer, not wanting it to be side-lined. He recognises that transformation of issues such as global poverty, homelessness, climate change and addiction cannot be done unless God is there.
As I look forward to next year I do not know what shape Just Love in Scotland will take. I hope that it is formed through prayer and reflection. What I do know is that this movement is so much bigger then me, than one individual student or even one group. God is in this and that means anything could happen. I am merely a steward who has enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, hoping that we can do what others say cannot be done.
Fiona is the Scotland Coordinator for Just Love, a charity working across the UK to inspire and release Christian students to pursue the biblical call to social justice. She lives Glasgow, having recently graduated from university with a degree in Theatre Studies. Fiona loves creativity, casting vision and developing leaders. She also enjoys coffee, theatre and simultaneously wearing several items of denim.