Faith in action
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There are MANY excellent resources available that give tips on how best advocate to MPs and other leaders - whether you are writing, calling or meeting with them. We have linked these below and figure that there's no point re-inventing the wheel when others have already done a fabulous job with these.
But there's a few things that we would add to the conversation. :)
1. Be respectful
When the Bible says that "all people are created in the image of God" it means politicians too! Ha. But seriously, let's always come with a spirit that assumes the best of the person we are meeting with and treats them with the respect and kindness that Jesus exampled.
2. Have courage
It can seriously be daunting to advocate for the oppressed to important people who are used to holding the power in most of their interactions with others. However, there is a strong biblical tradition of God using ordinary people to advocate to those who are power. We can be loving and respectful, whilst also confident and bold as we 'speak truth to power'.
3. "Love your enemies"
There will be times when the person you are engaging with is openly hostile and seems to be more of an enemy than a leader. Nonetheless, as Christians, our advocacy must be shaped by love. We should have a truly loving hope to see our leaders act for justice, because we believe it is in the best interest of all - both those receiving and distributing justice. A little tip to keeping your heart right in these situations is to pray for your 'enemy' - it is amazing what God can do our conflicted hearts in a time of prayer!
4. Be confident
Don't let a lack of understanding stop you from speaking up. Some of these issues are complex and finding the best solutions to them will require the best minds working together. But this is not a reason for you not to speak up. The situation does not require you to have the collective knowledge of group of experts, it simply requires you to be a voter who is giving feedback to an elected government representative.
Perhaps you have suggestions for solutions, perhaps you don't. More than likely, it would not be the wisest course of action for Australia for any single one of us to be handed that power (especially for those of us who do not work in the advocacy sector) but we are still responsible within a democracy to make a stand against injustice when we see it. Put simply, you don't have to be a rocket scientist OR an expert on displaced people in order to say that traumatised children being locked in offshore detention centres is simply not OK!
5. Walk away with an outcome
Our MPs have many, many priorities that compete for their attention and are likely to hope that spending 15 minutes speaking to you is all the time that they will have to spend on what you discuss. If at all possible, you want to walk away from the meeting with the MP having made a commitment to do something beyond the meeting - whether that be to speak to someone else in their party and report back to you, or read a report and give you their thoughts, etc.
6. Manage your time well
You don't not want to spend 10 minutes of a 15 minute meeting sharing your story and your heart for the issue. Get a dialogue happening as soon as you are able to. (Tip: Ask them questions and wait for them to respond).
Now, here's some of those brilliant resources that we mentioned: