The Sacred Work of Community Organizing


Anastasia Damyan

3/22/2018

I have always imagined justice as a Godly concept about turning the world into a utopian society where there are no poor, hungry, hateful,or violent people. Yet, until this internship, I didn’t have any examples of what that meant in real and practical terms. I have known about loving every person from every walk of life. I have been taught to love with respect, humility, and hospitality. I was also familiar with the work of missions. But my work at Christian Activities Council (CAC) has been a revelation to me in understanding the God of justice and Jesus’ work in building the Kingdom of God on Earth.
 
When I first arrived at CAC, my expectation was a job coordinating great Christian events. I’ve come to discover my role as something less grand, but more meaningful. My job has been about meeting and talking to people in my surrounding community. In my five months working at CAC, I’ve had conversations with people about their personal lives and life journeys. That has included tenants with housing issues, parents invested in the health of their school, and people whom I've met along my way. I’ve learned to listen intently and with my heart, to make myself available for simple visits, and to have conversations that draw out the joy in the life of my neighbors.  
 
Sometimes this work has felt fruitless. In the relational meeting, the goal of the conversations is to build toward a collective and united people with the same cry. Not every conversation has a magic spark and leads to that end. Other times it led to organized campaigns and brought people into areas of concern or an area of change. For example, the power of the relational meeting created alliances of tenants at CARA apartments, empowering them as a collective to change a system of oppression in their neighborhood.
 
I have learned that relating to people, one on one, and naming our mutual ownership of our community are the key prerequisites of any achievement, goal, or desire in this world.
 
I realized that when Jesus was carrying out his ministry, he was always talking to people. When he was talking to them he was meeting them wherever they were, and each time he brought them a liberation. They told him all about their lives and in turn they were empowered. I also realized that he never healed anyone unless they asked. And finally, I realized that Jesus was a radical rebel because he exposed unjust systems of his day. I realized that's a lot like community organizing!
 
Building justice in the world is not an ambiguous, idealistic biblical concept. It begins by taking time to face your neighbor.



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