By Yiyun Li
When you have a home to call your own, food to eat, and everything you want, you may not realize that poverty, hunger and even slavery, are happening somewhere else today. These problems are unjust, but what can we do about it?
Glorianne Wright, an InterVarsity staff worker from Rutgers University, came to Rider on April 4 to give a talk on God and justice. The event was hosted by The River: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and discussed how we can do our part for justice.
Wright opened with her own experience from back in 2007. She was surprised when she got her Valentine’s Day gift – a ticket to St. Louis as a volunteer for an urban project. There in St. Louis, she encountered students who could only have one meal each day. Their parents were busy working three jobs, only to afford the rent of a one bedroom apartment for them and their children.
“My heart broke. I cried every night,” said Wright. “Before that, I might have seen injustice on the news but never cared. I yelled, ‘somebody must do something!’ I must do something.”
Hearing how Wright and some friends helped a homeless person who lost his legs and had not taken a shower for two years, junior Eileen Xu felt shocked. “These girls must have conquered quite a lot to help him. They had the grace Jesus put in them.”
Wright continued after her story by explaining why people should get involved by following Jesus’ example. The thesis statement of Jesus is helping people – to help the poor now, rather than when we have spare time, according to Wright.
When asked how people define “the poor,” the audience answered “people who have little money.” Wright added four more groups of people: the poor might be people who are in poverty of community, being, spirituality or stewardship. This refers to people who have no friends or family who care about them, who lost their self-consciousness and do not know who they are, who lost hope and feel emptiness at heart and who do not know what they are capable of or how they can use their capabilities.
When she asked the audience about what justice is, Chuck Harrison, a Rider InterVarsity Christianity Fellowship volunteer, defined justice as: “to treat everybody equally and to treat others in the way you would like to be treated.”
The issue of justice, as Wright said, is a spiritual issue, so people need the right heart, though it is not enough to just feel guilty.
She pointed out that the students there at the moment are a part of the generation in which volunteering is more popular than ever. This is because many of them are seeking justice and they want to do the right things. Wright emphasized that people should do the voluntary work out of love rather than out of anything else.
Students agreed that injustice vastly exists in current society, such as the huge wealth gap in America. Wright’s speech reminded students of the things that they could do right now.
As freshman Adam Rivera said, “Now I am glad to have an opportunity to help the poor people. InterVarsity Christianity Fellowship is organizing trips to Kensington every month. We could volunteer to serve the homeless people with food and listen to their stories.”