The Importance of Social Justice
The Bible makes an overwhelming case that doing social justice is a “must” for all believers and churches. Galatians 2:9 says:
James, Peter and John agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor,
the very thing I was eager to do.
This was one of the most vital and high-level strategic planning sessions recorded in the Bible, where the apostles met to affirm who should take the Gospel to which sphere. But note the one thing that they agreed was imperative for both missions: remembering the poor. This was not optional for them, and neither is it for us. See the following Scriptures for further motivation: Isaiah 58:6-11, Matthew 25:31-40, Luke 4:18-19, John 13:34, James 2:14-17.
We believe social justice and empowerment should not exclusively be a ‘means to evangelism’. The broadest definition of the Gospel is the ultimate renewal of all things, both physical and spiritual.
We take our lead from Jesus who says in Luke 6:35 that we should “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…”
It would be a grave error to confuse evangelism with social justice and dull our unique contribution to the world. Anyone can feed the hungry but only Christians can present Christ to people, and see them born into an eternal hope. Although the spiritual is not more important than the physical, the eternal is more important than the temporal (2 Cor 4:16-18)
What is GodFirst Fourways doing?
We encourage our members each to find a way of serving the city with the love of God through some structured avenue. Many of our members either lead their own social justice initiatives or participate in initiatives led by others. To serve the poor and marginalised, to reach the business community, to reach the sex trade, to work with local government, and so on. The social justice projects that are governed by the church are referred to as “through the church” ministries. The many that are governed or initiated by our members are referred to as “beyond the church” ministries, which we actively promote, support, and connect people to. We often coach those involved and sometimes give money to many of these projects.
Our primary “through the church” ministries are in Witkoppen Primary School, working alongside the school to promote literacy and The Philile Foundation, which works with pre-school eduction and early childhood development in urban poor settings.
Witkoppen PRIMARY School
According to recent research, 58% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning, while 29% are completely illiterate.
With 11 official languages in South Africa, 70% of Grade 1 to 3 learners are taught in an African language. When learners reach Grade 4, the majority of them are then instructed in English. This approach is based on research that indicates that children acquire English language skills more easily when they receive instruction in their mother tongue in Grades 1 to 3.
However, many learners have not mastered reading for meaning in their first language by the end of Grade 3. The lack of basic literacy skills combined with a poor grasp of a second language (typically English) further inhibits their ability to master literacy skills in the transition to a second language from Grade 4. As a result their struggle to read for meaning or comprehend the curriculum is exacerbated.
We are excited to link up with a local school in our community, Witkoppen Primary School. We have a full time librarian, who meaningfully contributes to the staff and students as we work alongside the educators in order to develop the full potential of each and every child.
HOW CAN YOU BE INVOLVED?
◆ Offer to invest time taking kids through our Reading Club. This happens once a week. You do not need to be a teacher but rather, have a passion for helping children grasp basic reading skills.
◆ Lead bible studies for either male or female.
◆ Donate magazines and or newspapers for kids to use for their on-going school projects.
◆ Be part of our annual events.
The Philile Foundation.
Philile is a non-profit organization founded by GodFirst that exists to transform the lives of children and disadvantaged communities in South Africa. It aims to run a full range of initiatives with in-depth focus on early childhood development. Philile (pea-lee-leh) means ‘I am alive’.
South Africa is characterised by notable educational deprivation due to the following reasons:
◆ The quality of education cannot always be ensured and an enormous gap exists between the number of pupils graduating from school and those mastering a minimum set of cognitive skills.
◆ Most families do not have the time, resources or knowledge to give attention to school readiness strategies for their children.
Early childhood is a significant period of life in terms of one’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. These abilities progress at an astonishing rate and a huge proportion of learning takes place in the first few years of a child’s life.
At Philile we want to see children grow into adults with focus and ambition; a generation who eagerly seek opportunity and shape their future. We propose to do this through offering education at the earliest possible phase of life. We aim to help close the achievement gap between privileged and underprivileged children, using tools and systems that can be replicated and shared across the city in varied contexts. We provide daily nutritious meals and aim to create a safe haven for children during week days and at the ‘after care’ programme.
HOW CAN YOU BE INVOLVED?
◆ Volunteer, utilising your skills/experience/resources/training/contacts are great ways to support Philile;
◆ Raise awareness, who in your world of work, family and friends could you tell about Philile and encourage to get involved using their skills/finances/contacts?
See philile.org/how for details on how to give, lists of needs etc…
For more information please see philile.org