Davina Bacon, Prophetic Activist Alumni, discusses her experience of a UK/Kenya Just Scripture session with the Collective.
Hello! I’m Davina - I’m a student living in Cornwall who has completed the Prophetic Activist Scheme (2021) and have been involved in various climate justice campaigns over the last year.
Working towards justice is a key aspect of my faith, and being part of communities like the Christian Aid Collective has been a helpful way to explore that.
Towards the end of November, I had the opportunity to take part in a Just Scripture event organised by the Christian Aid Collective. The event brought together young people from across the UK and a group of young people from Nairobi, Kenya, to talk about what God says about justice and mercy in the Bible.
We focused on James 5:1-6, which is a very challenging section, essentially calling out those who are rich in resources and live in luxury, but oppress those who are in need.
James does not mince his words - for example, in verse 3, he says, “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.”
I would recommend reading the rest of the passage, if you haven’t already, for an eye-opening look into a truly radical (and biblical) approach to wealth. Whenever I read it, I’m always struck by how it could have been written today, with its references to unpaid labourers and a wide wealth gap.
As part of the event, we discussed in breakout groups how the verses could apply to our own communities, and though Kenya and the UK may seem very different, we found that there was more in common than we originally realised.
We talked about the massive issue of 'hidden' poverty in the UK, like how children who usually receive free school meals were not being provided with adequate food over holidays, whilst the UK is internationally perceived as a wealthy country, with many living luxurious lifestyles. The wealth gap is also an issue in Kenya, and lack of support has left many in need.
We also talked about how we were complicit in this unjust system, perhaps by buying things that had not been produced ethically, or simply by turning a blind eye to the things happening in our communities.
The young adults from Nairobi shared about a recent event where the Government had demolished a low-income neighbourhood, and its residents were left stranded with nowhere to go, including some people who attended their church.
Sharing footage of the evictions and demolition had been forbidden, and this meant it was harder to hold anyone accountable. One person talked about how they felt they had not done enough to engage with those in power to prevent this injustice, and this is something we could all relate to when reflecting on other injustices, such as the climate crisis or homelessness in our cities.
As well as hosting people who needed somewhere to live, they had set up groups for the children.
The church has played a key role in supporting the community in the past as well, by encouraging and enabling local young adults to start businesses, which has been very successful.
I was really struck by this and thought:
- What would it look like in the UK if churches became beacons of justice in their communities?
- What if the church was one of the primary places people turned to for support?
- What if we took the verses in James as truth, rejected the relative luxury so many of us live comfortably in, and instead took action to dismantle systems of oppression?
These were the thoughts that were going through my head as the event ended in prayer.
We prayed that we would have the courage to take action, in big and small ways, and that our respective communities would be transformed as a result.
In 2022, I’m hoping to get more practically involved in local community actions with other people of faith, such as helping with a food co-op that distributes meals to those in need and helping to set up a Just Love society at my university.
James 5:4 says, “The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” Let us partner with God and each other to respond to those cries with justice and mercy.