Many define advocacy as acting, speaking, or writing in support of something or someone; often with those in a position to make change – or as we shared in last week’s blog – advocacy is “putting love into action.”
But beyond public advocacy, calling our political representatives, we can practice everyday advocacy: using our voices to intercede on someone else’s behalf.
What is Everyday Advocacy?
Growing up, I never thought of myself as an advocate. In fact, when I thought of “advocacy,” I was intimidated. My earliest calls to elected officials involved a series of starts and stops. I would review my script, think about answers to possible questions, pick up the phone, and pause. I would repeat that cycle before starting to dial. Then I would take a deep breath, pause again, finish dialing, talk as fast as I could, and breathe a sigh of relief after hanging up.
And you know what? It went well, although it was terrifying. But while this type of advocacy is important, it is just one of the many ways we can each use our God-given voice to intercede for immigrants and refugees.
Over time, I’ve learned that advocacy takes many forms. And I have realized that we all advocate, all of the time for the decisions and beliefs that we believe are good.
Yes, advocacy includes speaking to those in authority. But it also looks like helping people navigate complex systems (like healthcare and school), calling the utility company to discuss an unexpected charge on our bill, educating friends and neighbors about immigration systems, and learning about the realities of our country and world through another person’s eyes… and allowing that to shape our actions.
A Biblical Foundation
As I’ve studied the Bible, I’ve learned about many different examples of advocacy. Some people, like Moses and Esther, found themselves in situations where they had the attention of kings. For them, advocacy meant using their positions of influence to speak up and bring freedom and safety for a large group of people. Other biblical figures were more like you and me. We don’t usually have a chance to talk with kings and rulers, but we do get to speak up on matters that impact other people.
The early church was known for standing with the vulnerable and neglected, bringing about healing and freedom, and disrupting systems. A common thread from those stories is the way their actions sprang from belief in God’s love for all people. Early Christians spoke up when they saw situations that did not reflect God’s heart for people to thrive – and this was a pattern throughout church history.
The strongest biblical example of advocacy is found in the person of Jesus, who regularly prayed to God on behalf of his followers and the world. Through Jesus, we see the power of prayers of intercession – of advocacy.
Advocacy Leads to Justice
Advocacy itself is never the goal. Shalom, meaning God-given peace and justice, is the goal. Advocacy is the action, the momentum, that brings about change in hearts and systems and even laws. Hopefully, our advocacy can bring about greater Shalom – justice, freedom, reconciliation, and wholeness. When it does, it reflects God’s ultimate design for relationship between humans and between humans and God.
What Does Everyday Advocacy Look Like?
- Helping a newcomer understand U.S. systems like banks, mail, and schools
- Learning more about local and state laws in an area of your interest, and talking about what you learn with neighbors and friends
- Helping someone access healthcare
- Calling your national, state, or local representatives. Click here to contact your local representatives.
- Talking about the need for more affordable housing with developers, investors, landlords, and anyone in the housing industry
- Telling people in your church or community group about the situations refugees and immigrants face
- Speaking up when you hear and see situations of discrimination or disrespect to others
- Also get creative! There are many ways that your unique abilities can be everyday advocacy.
We All Have Influence
We can choose to use our influence to bring greater justice and wholeness for our neighbors and ourselves. When we do this – whether it’s at work, with our family, at the gym, at church, or volunteering with World Relief – we act justly and serve others in ways that honor God.