the prophetic church

This is a good week to be flagging up a brilliant new resource our friends at Christian Aid have produced… their new report “The Prophetic Church” champions the importance of campaigning as part of the Proverbs 31:8-9 voicing of a wider biblical mandate. And you can download it for free here.


Why is it such a good week to talk about the prophetic church?

Well, it’s Fairtrade Fortnight…

Twenty years ago, it seemed more idealistic vision than one-day-possible-practical-reality that the UK would make sales of Fairtrade fortnight totalling £17.8 billion in just one year alone.

While there is a long way to go before the Fairtrade mark is seen as widely as it should be – and an even longer way to go before trade justice comes and poor nations stop being exploited and bullied to open up their markets to cheap imports, it’s incredible what has been achieved.

Twenty years is a very short time to bring about such massive, system-effecting change.

However, it is of course much too long  for producers waiting for justice and the chance to earn a living wage and send children to school.

And it must have felt discouragingly long at time for its prophets. Especially the ordinary, church-going, Fairtrade mark wearing ones that have relentlessly prayed and campaigned and dressed in banana suits locally because they don’t mind standing out or looking stupid to speak up and defend the rights of the poor globally.

And the next twenty might also feel too long too if you think of all the work still to come and – most of all – all the need and all the resistence.

But they – and we – keep going. And we are right to.

They are achieving change. And twenty years on from those first Fairtrade steps, no one is calling it a pipe dream. It may still be a drop in the ocean, but it’s a drop that is becoming less counter-cultural and more  mainstream.It can’t be ignored.

And thank God – because even if it’s only seeing change in part, it’s a voice for the rights of individuals loved by God but exploited by our systems is on our shelves saying to people, “listen to the story of the children as young as yours who grow your  chocolate”.

It is a massive understatement to say that Fairtrade and the awareness of the need for trade justice wouldn’t be where they are today without the prophetic church.

This was a revolution which started with kind Traidcraft reps with tea and biscuits in church halls and went on to be fought by committees of believers –  in many cases campaigning for the first time.

It is something the whole church – even those coming much later to the party than they hoped – should be immensely proud of, as well as fiercly committed to, for the long-term.

For this is one example of the church fulfilling its call. A church full of ordinary people who believe Jesus’ extraordinary message and are willing to preach it in actions and words in every area of their lives – from their interactions with politicians, to the queue at the supermarket and the dinner table with friends.

Back to Christian Aid’s report then…

David Muir, who helped pull this brilliant new resource together, says:

“When presented in biblical, historical and contemporary contexts campaigning becomes an exciting prospect and a vital practice for the church. That’s what The Prophetic Church resource seeks to promote.

“Dr Marijke Hoek considers how Moses and Esther provide us with examples of ‘speaking truth to power’ and considers Jesus’ ministry focussed on the poor and marginalised.

“Rev Simon Jones tells the remarkable story of William Carey’s campaigning work in India.

“And, coming to the present day, Sarah Croft and Alasdair Roxburgh highlight issues that must be addressed and questions that should be asked if the church is to be truly prophetic.”

No surprises… we’re recommending you read this report and get inspired to speak out the issues of injustice God is laying on your heart.

Meanwhile, Fairtrade Foundation… We salute you! Congratualtions and thank you to you, Christian Aid and many other partner organisations and individuals who have achieved so much in just two decades.

For the sake of producers and poor communities world-wide, here’s to two more that bring about more change than we could ask or imagine!

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