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Speaking out against injustice

7 November 2013 | by Dionne Gravesande

 As this year's Assembly of the World Council of Churches draws to a close, Dionne Gravesande reflects on our duty, as Christians, to stand up against injustice.

Dionne Gravesande Over the last nine days, I’ve struggled to comprehend how a community of women and men in the church, in the context of mutual recognition and transformative justice, can work together when our entry points are so diverse.

Powerful stories

There have been times where I wanted to scream out ‘no!’ when I heard the stories of women and girls who have been abandoned by mainstream society.

The stories reduced me to tears on the inside and out, and I have worked hard to remember I have a voice.

Raped, scorned, rejected, brutalised, silenced and made invisible, but thank God their stories made it to Busan.

Among the going and comings, the bus trips, hotels and business meetings where wordsmiths pour energy and effort in getting documents right, the power and amplification of these stories is where dignity and life is declared, to say: ‘you are important to me and my desire is that you do more than survive’, is in some cases, a resurrection message.

All these stories have human faces in both victim and oppressor. It’s easy to demonise the oppressor and blame them endlessly, but I choose to remember that the hope I believe in is big enough to include both sides in a story that can, from this point, have a different ending. 

Am I a Christian?

These words from yesterday’s closing message stir within me as I recall them:

‘Am I a Christian? How could I be in a world where Christians own multinational corporations that have commoditised water, air, and land?

Am I Christian? How could I be in a world where Christians increasingly justify the exclusions, bullying, torture, imprisonment, enslavement, lynching and murder of people whose language is too foreign, whose knowledge is too experiential, whose skin is too dark, whose region is too poor, whose HIV status is too positive, whose sexuality is too queer and whose gender is too female?’

The question is, of course, rhetorical.

As a Christian, I cannot be nonchalant about such injustices, and so the question for me (and the greater we) becomes - how then does justice arise within us and how do we offer each other a just peace?

Dismantling the chains of injustice

Of course, the justice agenda is not exclusive to Christians, but the church does have an important role to play in civil society; a role built on a rich history of tackling and dismantling the chains of injustice.

We did it with the civil rights movement, the Anti-Apartheid movement and the Jubilee Debt movement. The spirit of the Assembly is affirming life for all and so my prayer remains, God of Life, lead us to justice and peace.

Highlights from the WCC Assembly

Read more highlights from this year's Assembly in our blogs section

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