By Barbara Kufiadan, ELCA Advocacy 2018 Summer Intern
At a time of much political discourse, it is easy to lose faith in the process of civic engagement. As Christians, we are taught to have faith in each and every situation. Situations that are good, situations that could possibly go wrong, and even situations that will go wrong. It seems like such an easy principle to follow until you’re civically engaged. Faith-based advocacy requires you to keep the faith no matter the current policy issues and/or legislation are.
I’m Barbara Kufiadan, an ELCA Summer Advocacy Intern. As a Utah native, my journey to the ELCA Advocacy office in D.C. was a step out of my comfort zone. Faith-based advocacy organizations aren’t something that I was used to. Coming from a state where there’s only one major Christian denomination, there wasn’t much advocacy from other denominations. With little to no experience in faith-based advocacy, I have learned a lot in the two weeks that I have been here. Most importantly, I have learned how God’s word not only serves as a reminder of our faith in our personal lives but how it serves as a reminder of why we should advocate.
In my time here, I have attended the Poor People’s Campaign rally, made a visit to the House to regarding the Farm Bill, stood outside of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) three times waiting for Trump v. Hawaii, celebrated World Refugee Day by engaging in Refugee Road with Oxfam, taught High School Lutherans how to advocate and send letters to their representatives, as well as having a front row seat in the day- to- day decisions regarding child separation and immigration. Are most of the things I listed positive? Yes! But a lot of these issues also require a lot of faith.
It takes faith when standing in front of the SCOTUS hoping that there will be a decision made on the Muslim ban. It takes faith hoping that my brothers and sisters have the opportunity to seek asylum from their war-ridden countries. It takes faith hoping that high school students get a great response from their representatives. It takes faith in hoping that there is a just, reasonable solution to ending family separation and finding a pathway to citizenship.
Each thing that we advocate for allows us to step out on faith. God reminds us that we should “bare one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), and in doing so that means advocating for racial and gender justice, accessibility to food, adequate housing accommodations, immigration policy, environmental sustainability, and much more. At the end of a lot of these days, I had to make a choice. The choice to leave the end of the work day feeling discouraged or the choice to tap into faith and hope that justice would be served. I made a huge leap of faith coming across the country to intern for ELCA Advocacy and it has already been such a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
At a state of political discourse, I leave you with a word of faith: “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your ordinances before me.”(Psalms 119:30). Christians have a place in advocacy. During the times of distress, it is our faith-based advocacy that allows us to preserve and step out on what we know – faith.