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We need more activists

Jesus was an activist. He stirred things up. He made people mad. He took on the existing social order. Following him was often a stressful proposition.   Which raises the question: Are you more of an activist or a student?  The word “activist” acquired some odd connotations in the 6…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Jesus was an activist. He stirred things up. He made people mad. He took on the existing social order. Following him was often a stressful proposition.
 
Which raises the question: Are you more of an activist or a student?  The word “activist” acquired some odd connotations in the 60’s.  People correlated activism to hippies organizing campus sit-ins. 
 
But true activists are rare; most people are more cautious by nature. Trying to change the existing social order can be painful.
At the same time, insofar as activists are about addressing injustice, we need more of them.  We need people who recognize that controversy is a necessary by-product of their efforts.
 
One of my favorite activist illustrations comes from the Civil War.  At the outset, General McClellan was in charge of preparing the Union army to fight.  He did a great job of drilling them.  The problem was, he could never put the machine he’d created into gear.
 
Lincoln got frustrated; in his gut he felt he needed to engage the confederates sooner rather than later.  He’s reported to have quipped to McClellan, “If you’re not going to use the army, could I at least borrow it?”
 
When the season comes to act, further preparation is counterproductive.  Once a pastor friend of mine saw a vision of me helping lead an army into battle.  They were marching in lockstep, but were still putting on their uniforms as they went. They had a bias toward action as opposed to preparation.
 
We need more people with a bias toward action.  When, fresh out of college, I was challenged to establish a microcredit agency in Indonesia, I didn’t go get a degree first; I learned on the field.  What I learned was practical – I put it to use right away. Nowadays a lot of people feel they have to get an advanced degree before they can do microcredit work overseas.*
 
For example, look at the sex trade in Thailand and Cambodia.  Many advocacy groups have formed to “raise awareness.”  But how many groups have formed to actually do something about this issue?  In the fall, we’ll be sending a team of five women to live in Cambodia for two years.  They’ll learn the language and go into bars and work to get 14 & 15 year old girls out of those horrible places. 
 
They’ve watched enough videos and read enough articles.  They’re lacing their boots as they go (see their team picture above and go here to read their team leader’s blog).  They have looked at the sex trade and determined that something has to change. They are ready to put their lives on the line. They are activists.
 
Where have you been preparing long enough?  Where do you need to act?
 
 
*I grant you, advanced degrees are often very helpful and necessary. 

Comments (6)

  • I love that vision about putting on our uniforms as we are going out. I’ve felt so unprepared and go anyway. God always shows up.

    Thank you for the women giving their lives to rescue hurting girls in Cambodia. Please keep us updated and let us help cover God’s work through them in prayer.

    That is so exciting!!

    Come on ladies, the men will cover us in prayer and we can get a team and go too. There are hurting women filling sex clubs in most of our cities. It’s a little scary at first, but people respond to the Love of God. His Love never fails.

    We visited a local club for a season (I suggest going when they are setting up to open; they are clothed and there are limited men; help them if they are setting up tables, etc. :-).

    The people at the club were shocked we didn’t come to judge them. We befriended them (took some to lunch; called; baby gifts) and loved them and prayed for them in the name of Jesus – right in the club. I saw amazing miracles in that dark place. Some got out, some stayed, but God will meet them wherever they are.

    I’m thankful for God’s beautiful, awe-inspiring timing with Seth’s post since we are scheduled to start going back to the club. It’s difficult in our hectic world to choose which “good” to do, but God repeats himself. Hope your hearing His call to go too. It is a very neglected mission field that is white for harvest.

    God bless you all with more of Him!

  • Dear Western World People: I am so tired of STUDY and then further STUDY, and then ADVANCED STUDY. Come on Westerners, we need action(ists) NOW!

    Jesus love me (and girls in the sex trade) this I know… Isn’t that enough? Do we really need study of eschatology, ecclesiology, hermeneutics, homiletics… to demonstrate the love of our saving Lord?

    I am very thankful for my seminary education, but it is worthless if I continue to think and act (or lack thereof) like a westerner!

    Rise up you dreamers and those of you who long to make a difference out there. Find someone who shares your vision and go for it! Be a Kingdom Activist!

    “Holy Spirit, I ask that you would come right now as people read Seth’s blog post today. Might those who have even a spark of vision for Kingdom stuff be set aflame…”

  • Thanks for the reminder Seth. It isn’t faith unless we are “faithing” which is an action word.

    I used to tell my employees “I would rather you make a bold mistake than to sit on your hands and wonder”.

    God knows I have modeled at points the “reckless action” gambit but I’d rather live there than on a spiritual couch.

    AIM has an action bent in your DNA which is rare.

    Blessings!

  • Oh, this is fabulous. I knew there was a name for people like me! And Shane Claiborne is one of my favs…

    I am forwarding this post to friends who served in Chang Mai, (sp?) Cambodia for 11 years…my heart bleeds for these girls…we have a 13 year old Vietnamese daughter. I need say no more. But I often find myself chafing against the flow.

    May I continue to do so, in peace and love.

  • Oh, this is fabulous. I knew there was a name for people like me! And Shane Claiborne is one of my favs…

    I am forwarding this post to friends who served in Chang Mai, (sp?) Cambodia for 11 years…my heart bleeds for these girls…we have a 13 year old Vietnamese daughter. I need say no more. But I often find myself chafing against the flow.

    May I continue to do so, in peace and love.

  • Very true, we need to make sure we’re not spending so much time preparing that we forget about the action. I think part of this is a cultural thing… we, as North Americans, want to know all the details, have the plan laid out, be 100% prepared for the unexpected ūüėČ and know just what we’re doing before we take the first step. (Granted, not everyone is this way, but it’s a cultural generalization.) Different cultures, on the other hand, need to make sure they’re not acting too quickly without the proper training and preparation.

    I think that we as Americans need more activists (let’s get them out on the field), but we need to make sure to avoid the pendulum affect… activism+foolish and activism+naiive are dangerous combinations.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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