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A Faithful Commitment to Advocacy: Answering the Call

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Presentation on theme: "A Faithful Commitment to Advocacy: Answering the Call"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Faithful Commitment to Advocacy: Answering the Call
Jonathan Good Director, Faith Partnerships HFHI Pass out quiz Did this at Hab on Hill – but have modified

2 Questions to be addressed today
How do you define advocacy? How does HFH define advocacy? Are there good reasons why HFH should not do advocacy? Why does HFH engage in advocacy? What does the Bible say about advocacy? What are some Biblical examples of advocates? Is there a Biblical strategy for advocacy? What are some resources for further study?

3 Who am I? HFHI since 2009 Ordained minister - Presbyterian Church (USA) Pastored 2 churches for 15 years World Vision – US (Church Relations) 6 years Volunteer police/fire chaplain Live in Minneapolis

4 “Advocacy” defined ad·vo·ca·cy: noun Act of pleading / arguing in
favor of something Free Online Dict. Public support for / recommendation of a particular cause / policy Oxford English Dictionary “Supporting & defending a cause you believe in” Advocacy AOM, HFHI We’ll look at a few different definitions of “advocacy” The first is dictionary definition

5 ad·vo·cate: noun “Advocate” defined
(1) Person who publicly supports / recommends particular cause / policy (2) Person who pleads a case on someone else’s behalf (Oxford English Dict) Derived from Latin: “someone called to one’s aid” Often refers to paid legal representative Also refers to someone who argues for a cause / course of action Advocates: support & argue for rights of those in need or who suffer from injustice provide them skills & opportunities to speak on their own behalf work for justice by raising awareness of or changing unjust situations & policies Advocacy AOM, HFHI

6 Non-profit advocacy “An attempt to alter ways in which power, resources & ideas are created, consumed & distributed at global level” Advocacy AOM, HFHI “We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.” Martin Luther King, Jr This is how HFH defines advocacy in NGO context MLK spoke of sustainability. Important to address root causes instead of just responding to individual cases of need.

7 How one faith-based NGO sees advocacy
“A ministry of influence using persuasion, dialogue, & reason to affect change” “Seeks to address structural & systemic causes of poverty by changing policies, practices, & attitudes that perpetuate inequality & deny justice” A Citizen’s Guide to Advocacy, World Vision US World Vision is a contemporary of HFH

8 HFHI definition “Changing systems, policies & attitudes to achieve decent housing for all” Adopted by HFHI’s Board of Directors, 2005 Expanded version: HFH's advocacy is working to influence public opinion & decision-makers in all sectors to adopt policies & practices & transform systems that lead to the creation & preservation of housing for all, toward the goal of ending poverty worldwide. These sectors would include, but not be limited to, governments, individuals, religious communities, corporations & international financial institutions. Important to see that HFH sees faith communities as appropriate venues for advocacy development

9 “Devil’s Advocate” Roman Catholic church ceremony
of beatification / canonization required advocatus diaboli Duty to raise all possible serious objections against proposed action Arguments were answered by “God’s advocate” (advocatus Dei) A Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, S. Mathews & G. Smith, eds. There’s always another side to the story

10 Objections raised to HFH’s advocacy work
“We don’t feel called to be involved in politics” “It’s optional, and we opt out!” “It takes away from our primary focus” “It’s not compatible w/ our Christian foundation” “It’s another example of how HFH is moving farther away from Millard’s original vision” “We don’t have the budget / staff / resources / time in our affiliate to do it well” Ask first: What are some objections that you have heard in your affiliate?

11 “Affiliates are not required to engage in advocacy….”
Advocacy AOM “Affiliated organizations are encouraged to dedicate efforts to advocacy….” “Affiliates are not required to engage in advocacy….” Advocacy AOM, p. 7 Not mandatory

12 HFHI’s Mission Statement
Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope Doing advocacy builds hope Overarching Mission Statement for HFH

13 HFHI’S Mission Principles
#3 Advocate for affordable housing. In response to the prophet Micah’s call to do justice, love mercy & walk humbly with God, we promote decent, affordable housing for all, & we support the global community’s commitment to housing as a basic human right. We will advocate for just & fair housing policy to eliminate the constraints that contribute to poverty housing. And, in all of our work, we will seek to put shelter on hearts & minds in such powerful ways that poverty housing becomes socially, politically & religiously unacceptable. This is from HFH’s Core Documents: one of our 5 Mission Principles Begs the question: is this really optional for an affiliate?

14 HFHI’s senior leadership
HFHI made advocacy a priority in 2005 “In 2005, we had no formal advocacy program. Today, we have an active & robust advocacy network where HFHI, affiliates, state support organizations & national organizations around the world are influencing housing policy on a variety of issues, resulting in a range of successes — including hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for housing.” Jonathan Reckford, introducing HFHI’s Strategic Plan “It’s not our primary focus.” SLT just came out w/ next long-range plan: JR had gone public w/ saying that advocacy will be a primary focus..

15 Millard Fuller’s vision & legacy
“We have the know-how in the world to house everyone [&] the resources in the world to house everyone. All that’s missing is the WILL to do it.” “Fuller spent decades traveling & speaking worldwide, & earned international recognition for his work advocating decent, affordable housing for all.” From Fuller Center for Housing website Did Millard believe in advocacy? Did he promote it? Is it part of his legacy? Lack of budget / time / resources: this gets to a question of leadership. If leaders of your affiliate don’t make this a priority, it may not ever become one.

16 HFHI Advocacy Management Team (2005)
Vision & values: 1. HFHI is, always has been, & always will be a Christian organization. As such, HFHI finds its reason for being in the Bible. 2. On the basis of these beliefs, HFHI takes seriously the call of Christ to be in ministry with the poor toward ending poverty worldwide. “We don’t feel called to engage in advocacy” This isn’t optional if we take the Bible seriously.

17 “Advocate” in the Bible
Παρακλητος (parakletos): advocate, helper, intercessor; one who pleads the cause of another OT: Job’s “comforters” are called parakletores NT: Jesus and Holy Spirit called “advocates” “Parakletos was used originally in passive sense of one called in to help. But…this is alien to its meaning [in NT]. The parakletos…does not merely put in a good word, but brings active help.” Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1; Colin Brown, ed. Paraclete Active help

18 “Advocate” in the Bible
Term parakletos was applied: by John the Baptist to Jesus by Jesus to Holy Spirit In first century, an advocate was: a consulting lawyer or one who presented a client’s case in open court one who, in times of trial / hardship, sympathized w/ the afflicted & administered direction & support Unger’s Bible Dictionary John said that Jesus would come to be our helper. Jesus said that HS would come to be our helper. We are not alone in this work! Lawyers get a bad name – but they’re a great example of advocates!

19 Advocacy in Old Testament
Amos & Micah implored God’s people to help the poor, share wealth, & show concern for welfare of annawen, “the poor of God” Charity vs. Justice “Whereas charity alleviates effects of poverty, justice seeks to eliminate causes of it. Charity is a matter of personal attribute; justice is a matter of public policy.” Rev. William Sloane Coffin Perhaps most familiar example of advocate – C Heston & Yul Brynner (1956) Amos was a shepherd (750 BC) & Micah was from a small town – not powerful people. But spoke to power from a source of power.

20 God doesn’t want offerings in return for sin – God wants a
Prophet Micah Had daily contact with poor people who were exploited by rich & powerful He confronts matters in his own context while also sharing God’s timeless standards God doesn’t want offerings in return for sin – God wants a change of hearts Advocacy is about changing hearts

21 Justice, mercy, & humility
Ending poverty housing is a matter of…. Justice: Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a decent, affordable home Mercy: We are blessed to be a blessing Humility: We receive more than we give Creating a Habitat for Humanity, J Reckford Subtitle of JR’s book – he gets it from Micah (700 BC) -Micah’s message aimed at greedy & oppressive landowners who supported Israel’s corrupt political & religious leaders

22 Advocacy in Old Testament
Prophets declared that righteousness & justice will flow down like water in the Day of the Lord Year of Jubilee: time every 50 years when all things are renewed & all unpaid debts forgiven Slaves are liberated & land that was sold is returned to original owner Economic inequality eliminated & social status reoriented Day of Lord = time when everything will be made right. Jubilee: unclear whether this idea was ever implemented – but speaks to God’s design.

23 Justice & Righteousness
Justice (mishpat): “act of deciding a case in court” or “to govern / judge” In Hebrew Bible, always goes together w/ righteousness Righteousness (tsedeq): “norm or standard” or “the way things should be” Justice occurs 422 times / Righteousness occurs 276 times Together they mean “to make things right” In Bible, justice is almost always followed by one of 9 words: widow, fatherless, orphans, poor, hungry, stranger, needy, weak, oppressed Doing justice is about making life right for these people Doing Justice, World Vision International Compare number of times these words are used with occurrences of other words/concepts that get a lot of attention in churches. Advocacy is about “doing the right thing”. It’s just the right thing to do.

24 Advocacy in Old Testament
Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up & judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor & needy.” Psalm 82:2-4: “How long will you defend the unjust & show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak & fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor & oppressed. Rescue the weak & needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Active words.

25 Advocacy throughout the OT
Law of Moses or “Torah” (God’s teachings) Poetic books Prophets Historical books Esther Nehemiah Other OT examples: Esther – took risk to speak to king to save her people Nehemiah (430 BC) – advocated for rebuilding of wall around Jerusalem. Had been down for 150 yrs – destroyed by Babylonians. Building project drew opposition from non-Jews, politicians, & others whose personal interests were threatened. NIMBYism Rebuilding was completed in how long? 52 days!

26 Advocacy in New Testament
Jesus begins public ministry by looking back to Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for God has anointed me. God has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, & to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor Luke 4: 18-19 People who heard this message tried to throw Jesus off a cliff! Risks of taking on advocacy are minor compared to risks of doing nothing Even Jesus used Scripture to support his advocacy work. Met with great opposition. What risks have you faced in your advocacy efforts? What hurdles await you? Fear is not a good enough reason to avoid doing advocacy.

27 Advocacy in New Testament
Sermon on the Mount: Jesus develops idea of Kingdom of God in which He considers both our faith and our acts of love, compassion & justice. Jesus introduces Golden Rule Love God & love others as much as you love yourself Luke 10:27 Ultimately, advocacy is an expression of our love.

28 Advocacy in New Testament
Jesus lets us see our Final Exam One question: What did you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters? For I was hungry & you gave me food. I was thirsty & you gave me drink. I was a stranger & you welcomed me. I was naked & you clothed me. I was in prison & you came to me Matthew 25:35-36 What ultimately separates the sheep from the goats – those who inherit the Kingdom of God? We will be judged by our actions – not just by our beliefs. What did we do with what we believed to be true?

29 A Biblical strategy for advocacy
In the end, our strategy is about doing justice – making life right - with mercy and humility Sometimes that will mean building a house Sometimes that will mean being an advocate Always that will mean demonstrating the love of Jesus

30 Getting practical Starts with relationships Connecting the dots
Adding it to your toolkit Know your audience Talk to each other Start small What’s working out there?

31 Mt. Athos, Greece “Holy Mountain” – home to 20 monasteries
Completely dedicated to prayer & worship Mt Athos: only males allowed Orthodox Church What is impact of 20 monasteries full of monks who pray and worship 24/7? Hard to know. But I’m glad they’re doing it. Same w/ advocacy. Sometimes hard to know or see impact. But it’s still right thing to do.

32 Resources A Citizen’s Guide to Advocacy, World Vision US (2006) Advocacy Affiliate Operations Manual, HFHI (2011) Creating a Habitat for Humanity, Jonathan Reckford, Fortress (2007) Doing Justice: Bible Studies on Advocacy, World Vision International (2007) Good News About Injustice, Gary Haugen, IVP (1999) Interfaith: An Advocacy Toolkit, HFHI (2011) Kingdom Building for the 21st Century, HFHI (2006) The State of Advocacy: Board of Directors FY2011 Report, HFHI Government Relations and Advocacy (2011)

33 Questions / Comments / Rebuttals
Conclusion Questions / Comments / Rebuttals Thank you!

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