God’s heart breaks for the displaced, disadvantaged, marginalised and exploited in this world. In the Bible these groups of people are described as ‘fatherless’, ‘widows’, ‘the poor’, ‘the foreigner’, ‘the afflicted’ and ‘victims’.
While that’s not an exhaustive list, it certainly paints for us a picture of what concerns God, of the spread of those who matter to Him, of people who are unable to help themselves. Images and reports of many people fitting these categories are constantly before us as we connect with news feeds of what is happening in our world around us. We’re regularly hearing of atrocities meted out by those in positions of power and nfluence on those at the other end of the social spectrum. It is on good biblical authority then that we know these situations break the heart of our God, the ‘father to the fatherless’, the ‘defender of widows’. (Psa 68:5)
It is little wonder then that people are taking these biblical understandings to bring compassion to people trapped in situations from which there is no clear exit. We immediately think of physical ncarceration, but cultural norms driven by ignorance also unwittingly ensnare people in impoverished habits and lifestyles. Practices around health issues severely restrict dignity in daily living, restricting employment opportunities, for instance. I am sure you will be aware of other situations of equal or greater debilitating significance that readily come to mind.
God is at work calling His people to model His heart to those in unfortunate situations. More and more, particularly young people are responding to what are generally described as social justice issues. More and more I am hearing stories of bold innovative ways that are used to bring hope and God’s love to those who are locked in circumstances that provide no freedom to live as God intended. Young people who are deliberately making tertiary education choices to enable them to impact lives for eternity. They are investing their time in training in law, medicine, aviation, education, business, counselling, … you name it, so they can make a difference for the disadvantaged, using their knowledge and experience in practical life-changing ways for God. Many will be taking advantage of the demand for heir skills in countries they wouldn’t otherwise have entrance into.
Tertiary training comes at a cost. We all know that. Student loan balances can quickly balloon out, to an extent that might put consideration of going to do God’s work cross-culturally on the back-burner for a time. The practical need to repay a student loan may take longer than the work period to achieve full registration to the appropriate regulatory body of the chosen discipline. There may be years of loan repayments ahead.
If you identify with this situation, I’d love to talk with you. There are a couple of ways we at GC3 may be able to help you. Recently we gained a status that enables ‘volunteers’ associated with us to have no interest charged on student loan balances for the first two years they are overseas. In addition, we are aware of funders whose heart is for student loans to not be a barrier for young people undertaking the mission God has called them to. If this is where you are at, then be sure to contact me.
Let the words of Isaiah drive us forward, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (1:17) Will you become an agent of change for God in our world?
Sefton Marshall | GC3 Operations Director