More than 180 Christian “prophets” recently descended on Australia’s capital for advocacy and lobbying training to fight global poverty.
The “Voices of Justice” campaign June 16-19 was sponsored by Micah Challenge, part of a Make Poverty History project to influence politicians to fulfil Australia’s commitment to do its part in funding and achieving the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals.
Australian Baptists including Les Fussell, chair of the Micah Challenge national steering committee and CEO of Baptist World Aid Australia, were part of the group, which included high school and university students, young professionals, middle-age couples and retired farmers.
Other Baptists involved were Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision; Thorwald Lorenzen, a former long-time professor of systematic theology and ethics at International Baptist Theological Seminary in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, and pastor of CanberraBaptistChurch in Australia; and nine BWAid Australia interns.
The result: 72 politicians received visits in their offices in Canberra, and seven in 10 said they were supportive of increasing Australia’s aid budget. Twenty members of parliament attended events including forums on the environment and poverty issues, as well as the opening of an art exhibit called Create to Advocate.
Some of 30 art pieces on the plight of the poor moved some politicians to tears. Nine speeches so far have been made in Parliament as a result of the lobbying efforts. More are promised after the winter recess.
One comment emerged that “the prophets were in Canberra.”
“As a result of the Micah Challenge campaign, we are seeing in the Baptist community of Australia, as well as in most other Christian groups, a renewed embracing of God’s heart for the poor and a more holistic understanding of the mission of God in his gospel and the world,” Fussell said in a written dispatch to EthicsDaily.com.
The Voice of Justices initiative was associated with Micah Challenge’s “Blow the Whistle” campaign, marking the halfway point to the U.N. Millennium initiative to halve absolute poverty by 2015.
It corresponds with a 07:07:07 postcard campaign to Australia’s prime minister, asking him to keep his eye on the goal and fulfil Australia’s commitment to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
So far, Micah Challenge Australia has distributed more than 160,000 postcards. A similar campaign in 2005, using a postcard titled “You Promised,” helped influence the prime minister to promise to double Australia’s overseas aid budget by 2010.