Amazing student mission story from our guest blogger Tom Christmas (what a name) and how a movement has started...
Just over 2 years ago I was by the side of a railway in Durban, South Africa, talking to a man barely older than me. He didn’t think he had very long left to live - his insides were being destroyed by a new drug – ‘whoonga’. There were hundreds of people living there, homeless, in the grip of whoonga. Abandoned on the streets at the age of 3, the man we spoke to had little hope left for himself, but he begged us to take his girlfriend, who was working as a prostitute to finance her drug habit, away with us, to give her a better life.
As we spoke, a sleek BMW with tinted windows crawled by, looking very out of place in this part of town. ‘Those are the people who sell us the Whoonga.’ A flash of fiery anger flared up inside of me. These lives were being ruined so that someone else could get rich.
It was in South Africa that I realised why I had found my first year of uni so frustrating.
The suffering and injustice in the world is vast, almost unbelievably so. And yet we, a community of Christian students at church and CU who championed an all-loving God, didn’t seem to be talking about it, didn’t seem to be thinking about it, didn’t seem to be doing anything about it. We would talk about this God of grace, this God whose love never fails, we would pray to Him, sing songs about Him, and we would want other people to know about Him.
But something big was missing. Isaiah talks about a community that comes to God in prayer and fasting. Day after day they seek Him out – but God ignores them. He tells them to ‘loose the chains of injustice’, to ‘set the oppressed free’, to ‘share your food with the hungry.’ ‘Then you will call, and the Lord will answer’. (58:9)
I came back in my second year and began to meet others who had the same hunger for change. We had seen the gap between God’s commands to seek justice, and the injustice that was prevailing in the world – and we couldn’t keep quiet about it. We wanted to inspire all Christian students to seek God’s heart for social justice, and we wanted to release them to build His Kingdom – so we started an organisation called Just Love.
Last term, in Oxford, Just Love raised over £8,000 for the 1 in 7 people who go to bed hungry. Almost 30 students a week were working with the homeless. We stood for 27 hours in the town centre, and saw almost 1000 petitions sent to the UN to help the 27 million victims of modern day slavery. And we have a generation of students coming through Oxford who are capturing God’s heart for justice.