Like community development and emergency response, advocacy is an essential part of World Vision’s work. As we work alongside communities to build a better world for children, our advocacy work challenges the very policies, systems, practices, and even attitudes that make it difficult for vulnerable children and families to live life — free of violence and poverty.
At a World Vision advocacy event, the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, author of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World, put it this way: “We need to love as intelligently and effectively as we can. If you can feed one hungry person, you’re loving them well. But when millions are hungry, we can love them effectively by advocating for development.”
Here in the United States, World Vision approaches the government as a partner. Our advocacy team develops strategic relationships with key elected officials who can impact U.S. foreign policy on behalf of children living in extreme poverty.
But we also can’t do it without you.
As voters and constituents, your opinions matter to your elected officials.
Biblical advocacy allows you to see your legislators not as targets, but as fellow humans. You can and lift them up with encouragement before lovingly reminding them that God has called them to be servants of the most vulnerable.
“Advocacy means that we’re speaking on behalf of others,” says Pastor Eugene Cho. “For us as Christians, I feel like this should be something that is really resonant with our worldview, our theology. Jesus is our great Advocate. He represents us; he speaks on our behalf.” (See 1 John 2:1.)
Many of us are exhausted by the political discourse in our country. It’s hard to step into that messy scene and use your voice for change. But that’s why God is your Partner in any advocacy effort—he is with you.
“I don’t really like politics, but I understand that’s just part of how our systems work,” Eugene says. “Politics informs policies, which will ultimately impact people. People really matter to God, and as a result, we have to engage in the political process.”
When you answer his call to speak on behalf of the marginalized and the oppressed, you’ll have the Holy Spirit to encourage and strengthen you during every letter you write, call with your senator’s office, or meeting with your representative.
Scripture is full of stories that exemplify God working alongside advocates. Once you know firsthand the nervousness of planning to meet with a leader — the diligent prayer and preparation that happens before a call or meeting and the peace that comes when your task is finished, regardless of the outcome — these stories of people like Esther, Moses, Daniel, and others become instantly relatable.
Remember that before her noble advocacy, Esther was an orphan living with her cousin, Mordecai, among Jewish exiles. Moses was one of many Hebrew newborn sons ordered to be killed until he was saved by his mother and adopted by the Egyptian royal family. Daniel was one of a group of Israelite youths taken captive to serve a king. They’re all proof that God uses ordinary people (like all of us) to do extraordinary things.
And these extraordinary things come in packages both big and small. You can take simple steps to become an advocate for those around you or write a letter to your representative. Maybe God wants you to take a big step and meet with your congressional representatives. Maybe your meeting with a senator is the one that moves his or her heart toward the issues that affect children living in extreme poverty. It could be a step toward helping children experience better lives around the world — including your own. Or maybe the meeting doesn’t work out like you hope, and it’s a simple reminder for you and your family that speaking up on behalf of others is not only worthwhile, but what God calls us to do.
If secular advocacy is calling on government officials to pay attention to what’s important to you, biblical advocacy is reminding them to do what God has called them to do — since 91 percent of Congress publicly claims faith in Christ.
The Bible is filled with many verses in which God specifically asks us to speak on behalf of those in need.
Verses about God’s heart for advocacy:
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Deuteronomy 16:20 (NIV)
“Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
Job 5:15-16 (NIV)
“He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.”
Psalm 41:1 (NIV)
“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.”
Psalm 50:6 (NIV)
“And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.”
Isaiah 56:1 (NIV)
“This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.”
Jeremiah 22:3 (NIV)
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
Amos 5:24 (NIV)
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
Zechariah 7:9 (NIV)
“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.”
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Luke 11:41 (NIV)
“But now as for what is inside you — be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
2 Corinthians 8:13-15 (NIV)
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
James 1:27 (NIV)
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
1 John 3:17-18 (NIV)
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Psalm 82:3 (NIV)
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.”
Proverbs 29:7 (NIV)
“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
There are also stories of advocacy throughout the Bible — think of Moses, Daniel, and Esther. To secure the Israelites’ freedom, Moses uses his connection to Pharaoh to speak for the people. Daniel speaks up on behalf of himself, his friends, and his faith when he and his friends are taken from their own people and delivered to King Nebuchadnezzar.
Esther is willing to risk everything to save her people. “… I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). By using her influence with the king to advocate for the Jews, she puts her status as queen, and even her own life, on the line. And it works: King Ahasuerus hears Esther’s pleas. She and her people are saved.
God also calls each of us to be good stewards of our gifts. As Americans, we have the gift of influence with our government. When we steward that gift well, leaders can make decisions that fight the systemic causes of poverty, conflict, and injustice. One determined voice can help change lives around the world — and that voice could belong to you.
It’s like Mordecai says to Esther as she’s considering whether she should advocate for her people: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
There are 535 men and women who serve as our members of Congress, and these are just some of our country’s leaders. People who are part of our government — whether they’re members of Congress, the president, the Cabinet, the judiciary, or state leaders — are faced with difficult decisions every day in addition to balancing their personal lives with family and friends. Too often, it’s easy to forget about the person behind the political decisions they make. But if we take a moment to remember their humanity, it allows us to see them as a child of God who needs prayer just like you and me. As newly elected officials begin their terms and veterans return to session, join us at World Vision in praying for the leaders in our government.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.—1 Timothy 2:1-4
After praying for our leaders, will you send a note of encouragement to your members of Congress? Nearly 91 percent of Congress claims faith in Christ, so knowing that someone is praying for them and their work would be a blessing to them. And if they’re not believers, it shows your goodwill toward them.
Pray for government leaders and their families.
Your leaders have families and responsibilities outside of work, but they also face some unique challenges. Between splitting their time in their home state and Washington, D.C., and working long hours in the office, many government leaders sacrifice time with their family to serve their constituents. Their families are also more often in the spotlight, causing additional stress. Pray that government leaders and their families would be strengthened by Christ, fulfilled by the time they have together, and supportive and encouraging of one another.
God, thank You for the men and women who serve our country in leadership roles and for their families. Please provide our leaders with reminders each day of why they decided to dedicate their lives to public service, and use that commitment to encourage them. Give them peace when their work takes them away from their families. We also pray specifically for the wives, husbands, and children of our leaders. We ask that You draw near to them and give them the wisdom on how to best support one another while their loved one is away working.
Pray for the staff members of government leaders.
All of our country’s leaders have staff members who are working to answer phones, meet with constituents, respond to messages, and help shape public policy. They work exhausting hours and have many difficult conversations, weighing the needs and desires of constituents. Pray for staff members as they navigate these conversations and respond to people’s concerns so they have the wisdom and stamina to steward the power of the office they represent for good.
We are so grateful for the staff of our leaders, Lord. They have such an important job keeping the offices running as they should. Thank You for the ways You have gifted them to support so well. Wrap your arms around these men and women to show them love, grace, strength, and encouragement. Provide them with the knowledge needed to approach each situation in the best way possible. Help them to know You and see Your presence in the work they do. And, Father, give them the stamina to approach each day and to find a balance between work and life so that they would be sustained.
Pray for relationships leaders have with others.
Our country’s leaders rely on relationships to get their jobs done. Whether it’s a relationship with another leader, constituents, or someone else — relationships are key to solving problems and leading our democracy. But when dealing with politics, it’s easy for tensions to build. Pray that those in authority can approach each relationship they have with kindness and an attitude of openness. Ask God to guide their conversations with Christ-like love and humility.
Father, we are so grateful to be living in a democracy where many play a part in making sure the needs and desires of the nation’s citizens are heard and met. As our leaders work together to find solutions to difficult problems, we ask that You guide them to speak respectfully and with humility to one another. Help them to show Christ-like love to those they interact with and be an advocate for their constituents and others.
Pray for softness in our leaders’ hearts.
Our leaders have a lot of pressing issues to address, and it can be easy for them to forget topics that they feel further removed from or that they don’t hear from their constituents about. But our leaders have the ability to help end global poverty and hunger through policy change. Pray that they would hear from constituents on issues that are impacting the most vulnerable and that they would be moved to action.
Lord, thank You for leaders who care about issues impacting the most vulnerable. We ask that You help all leaders to care for people in need, especially children. Press on the hearts of constituents a desire and drive to reach out to their government leaders on issues surrounding global poverty, and soften leaders’ hearts toward these issues.
Pray that leaders would be courageous in representing their constituents.
Our leaders are juggling their own interests, the interest of many constituents, and sometimes the interest of organizations. It can be hard to find solutions that meet everyone’s wants and needs. Pray that our government leaders represent all of their constituents well and courageously uphold biblical values.
We are so grateful that we have leaders that listen to us. God, please be with our government officials as they weigh the pros and cons of each constituent’s request. Give them wisdom on how to best represent everyone. Father, we also ask that You give our leaders courage so that even when it’s hard, they would continue to boldly represent their constituents’ needs and those of the most vulnerable. Amen.
It all started with one Christmas gift — a gift that changed how 16-year-old Lucy sees the world and spends her time.
Last Christmas, Lucy Besch of Chesterfield, Missouri, received money from her parents to sponsor a child through World Vision. Her sponsored child, 8-year-old David from Kenya, shares her birthday.
Lucy now uses her babysitting money to pay for the monthly child sponsorship and is committed to keeping it going.
“If David’s in need, I want to do all I can to help him,” Lucy says. “I have a lot of blessings and opportunities just because of where I was born, and other people don’t have opportunities just because of where they were born. So, I feel like, as a Christian, God wants me to do what I can to help others.”
From writing letters to house resolutions
Lucy writes letters to David, and she gets letters in return. In some of their letter writing, Lucy learned that David’s community was improving a lot through World Vision’s work. She wanted to learn more, so she began searching on World Vision’s website for ways she could get more involved.
World Vision’s advocacy work intrigued her, so despite her doubts, Lucy sent an email asking if she could help. “I didn’t think I would be able to do it because I’m not even old enough to vote,” says Lucy. “At the time I started, I wasn’t even able to drive!”
Lucy received resources and confidence from World Vision’s advocacy team. She called her state representative and soon was at the office of Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri, speaking with a staff member about issues that affect children like David in Kenya. They discussed House Resolution 910 to end violence against children.
“I was worried because I’d never done anything like that before,” Lucy says. “But I was glad to find out that I didn’t have to be too knowledgeable — I just had to be passionate about what I was saying and do my best!”
Following God’s call
Soon after that first meeting, Lucy was invited back to meet with her state representative in person. Rep. Wagner found Lucy’s words and actions so inspiring that she agreed to cosponsor House Resolution 910 to end violence against children.
“I was so happy that she’d done it and grateful that she’d listened,” Lucy says. “I was amazed that just by meeting with somebody, I’d set the ball rolling and made it happen!”
God has helped me so much in my life and I want to do what I can, and do what he calls me to do.—Lucy Besch, 16
Lucy’s faith is what motivates her to keep sponsoring David and advocating for children. “God has helped me so much in my life and I want to do what I can and do what he calls me to do.”
As Lucy follows God’s call, God is already using Lucy. In May, the Ending Violence Against Children resolution was introduced in the House and currently has 34 cosponsors, including Rep. Wagner who was one of the initial cosponsors, thanks to Lucy. Lucy plans on staying in touch with Rep. Wagner and continue advocating for the well-being of children.
Impacting lives and laws
Lucy also wants other young people to use their voices for positive change. She wants youth to know that even though they can’t vote yet, their opinions matter to elected officials.
“For a while, I saw the government as pretty distant and as something that a lot of people argue over,” she says. “But it was amazing to see that these leaders are so accessible and they’re there to help me and others.”
Lucy has her driver’s license now and continues to babysit to earn money each month to sponsor David. She also is hooked on advocacy, and she is considering a path of public service.
“I want to impact people, so seeing their work inspired me to consider going into that in the future,” says Lucy.
For now, she’ll keep up her sponsorship, advocacy work, and inspiring others to make a difference. “Through advocacy, we enable laws to be passed and things to happen to make World Vision’s work more effective and more possible,” she says. “It doesn’t cost any money to be an advocate and by doing it you’re able to help even more kids in addition to the ones you’re sponsoring!”
How can I help?
- Contact your representative using this easy form to advocate for a solution to ending violence against children.
- Sponsor a child to change the life of a child like David and impact your life, too.
- Become an advocate with World Vision to speak up for children’s well-being.
The post Heart of an advocate: A Missouri teen invests her time in standing up for children appeared first on World Vision.