The “Formula” for Christian Global Engagement
I like organization. I like clarity. I like finding solutions to problems. But before I graduated from Seattle Pacific University last year, the Lord decided to mix things up. Being the God of big impact that he is, he gave me a passion for something that needed more than a quick solution: the global AIDS pandemic. Suddenly, I was dealing with something that had no organization, clarity, or clear solutions in sight. Now what?
My first clue came in the form of a question. During the fall of 2003 I was an intern at World Vision, and one of my mentors asked me something that shot straight to my soul: “When your kids ask you what you did about AIDS, what will you say?”
I kept thinking, if only I had more time, maybe I could think this over and map out specific agenda items. Then maybe I could fully address the question –– and maybe even the entire AIDS pandemic.
But in that moment, I realized this was much too big for me. Any kind of formula I might propose wasn't going to be good enough. This was a God thing. And there in that room, my heart changed, and I began to listen.
What I found was a deep calling to encourage my generation to take ownership of the AIDS crisis. This led me to help found a grassroots campaign at SPU called Acting on AIDS (A o A) –– a program aimed at creating global AIDS awareness and activism on Christian college campuses .
There was, of course, a lot of careful planning involved in launching an initiative of this scale, and God used every ounce of my organizational skills to get the campaign off the ground. The result? A o A is now a sustainable success –– a World Vision initiative that is engaging more than thirty-five Christian colleges and universities nationwide.
What I never could have planned was all that God would do in the midst of –– and often in spite of –– my careful intentions. I could not have calculated seeing students from every corner of the nation praying for those impacted by AIDS, giving of their time and money to ease the suffering of the marginalized, and speaking openly to their peers about their passion for easing the distress of orphans and widows. These students are beginning a revolutionary movement for Christ and in Christ, and with each earnest heart, AIDS looses its grip on humanity. This is what God had in mind.
He was, and is, working outside of my box –– moving me beyond my tendency to apply “Lisa's Five-Step Formula for Success” to any given challenge. In the midst of this lesson, I've spent time considering the Lord's command that we take care of the orphans and the widows (James 1:27 ), feed the poor and tend to the sick (Luke 10:32 -37), and live a life in which we strive to “act justly and to love mercy” (Micah 6:8).
And I'm beginning to realize that above all of these specific commands there is a God who is bigger than our personal plans to make the world a better place. He may inspire and use what we conceive, however the biggest moments do not lie in our efforts, but in God's power.
It's a given that we are called to be global Christians who seek to fight the world's pain. I don't need to explain that to the Seattle Pacific community, because it's a message that resonates beyond the classroom. Whether it's AIDS, racial reconciliation, tsunami relief, or cultural engagement –– people here get it. But I'm reminded each day that we cannot engage the world –– and truly change it –– without the Lord.
The challenge, then, to my generation? It's not just adding Christ into our preconceived agendas and plans, but it's following his lead and participating in a much bigger formula as it unfolds. That way, when our children ask us, “What did you do about AIDS? Or social injustice? Or poverty?,” we can say, “We threw out our plan and traded it in for God's power and perfect timing.” And in my view, that's about as perfect as any plan or formula can get.
— BY LISA KROHN '04
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