In just two years we've achieved some amazing things. As we look forward, we remember where we've come from and the wins along the way.
We've been so encouraged in the last few years to see the Australian Church increasingly unified in a response of generosity and compassion towards those people who seek asylum on our shores.
But we are also aware that, despite a welcoming stance being shared by most, many Christians do not engage in advocacy on this issue due to political party allegiances, a concern about the issue's complexity, uncertainty regarding what the Bible teaches about advocacy, and the prioritisation of other social justice issues that are deemed to be a 'safer' topic for Christians.
As a result, it seems that our national leaders rightly do not consider justice for people seeking asylum to be a primary faith issue for Christians.
As a Common Grace community, we want to work strategically to change that.
Therefore, over the next few years we want to work strategically to ensure that both Christians do consider justice for people seeking asylum to be a primary faith issue and that our national leaders know it!
Without giving too much away, some of the specific goals that we hope to achieve this year are to:
Build a network of leaders to engage Churches
If we, as a Common Grace community really want to inspire more Christians to consider justice for people seeking asylum as a primary faith issue, it will involve engaging churches more deeply. We are therefore hoping to build an active network of pastors, ministry leaders and influential Christians within churches, who all share a common passion for justice in this area. We'll be resourcing these leaders with teaching, content and stories to share within their communities and inspire collective action, and encouraging them to share their own resources and learnings with each other.
Develop valuable resources and resonate messaging
With many Christians already concerned about this issue, but not necessarily highly engaged, we believe Common Grace has the opportunity to develop resources that articulate why Christians care and that overcome the obstacles that can prevent Christian engagement.
We hope to produce bible studies for the thousands of small groups that meet every week, creating space that opens up discussion while providing valuable and accurate resources to help guide those discussions.
Further build the media profile of the Christian response
While we, as a Common Grace Community, can reach many Christians through our networks, shifting a national perception will require the media to notice the shift and report on it. This will require us specifically engaging both Christian media and mainstream media, by identifying influential voices and artists who care deeply about this issue, and promoting stand-out Christian stories that are able to cut through in the media.
Provide clear and meaningful actions to respond
Since many Christians are already engaged in this area, it is essential that Common Grace continues to provide meaningful and easy opportunities for action.
However, we are also determined to ensure that we also prioritise work that gives the formational underpinning for our action, along with the reasons why our action is helpful, so that our Common Grace community has a robust understanding, and compels others towards action too.
Support other organisations and movements with a uniquely Christian contribution
As a Christian community, we have a unique role to play alongside secular movements, and finding that unique contribution allows contribute to national actions while telling the Christian story and mobilising otherwise unreached Christian partners. We therefore plan to continue to build the significant relationships that we have built in the asylum seeker advocacy sector, to seek the advice of leading organisations with greater resources and experience, and to ensure our initiatives fit within the wider sector's strategy.
There's obviously a lot of work to be done between the articulation of the vision above and actually achieving these outcomes - ranging from the administrative tasks to communications and web work. One of the most helpful ways that you can support us in achieving these is by donating towards the labour costs of our staff and contractors who will actually do this work, and towards the web platform costs associated with making our resources accessible. You can partner with us in this way here.
If whilst reading the vision that we've articulated above, you're aware that you have expertise, research or media skills that could be helpful to advocating for people who seek asylum in Australia (and you'd like to volunteer to contribute them!) we'd love to hear from you. Pease contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.