“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This Martin Luther King Jr. quote reminds us that the church must match their efforts for justice at home and around the world. This is an important lesson as the PC(USA) crafts and lives into the vision of Matthew 25 — a program that invites churches to commit to congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systematic poverty.
The Matthew 25 program is intimately connected with how the PC(USA) articulates local and global missions in the 21st century. This fall, our Louisville, Kentucky, offices were presented with the opportunity to tangibly live out the Matthew 25 vision when Kentucky Refugee Ministries asked our local offices to co-sponsor a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In advance of the family’s arrival, our team spent days cleaning a new apartment, setting up new and donated furniture, and shopping for groceries.
Marla Edwards, mission specialist for the Office of Vital Congregations, was a part of the volunteer team. “It has been very rewarding, to say the least. As God used us to share resources with this beautiful family, God likewise used them to teach us so much about how to be good neighbors.”
Connecting with the Congolese family ignited a fire within the team of PC(USA) volunteers, who have since helped six refugees from Afghanistan begin a new life in Louisville.
However, as we all know too well, the work for justice extends beyond our own backyard, as does the prophetic call of Matthew 25. Based on this theology, the PC(USA) supports the faithful efforts of global mission co-workers such as Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather, who serve in South Sudan — a country where five decades of civil war was followed by famine, economic devastation, and government unraveling, leading to the displacement of over 1.5 million people.
The Smith-Mathers work with RECONCILE International, a nonprofit created by the New Sudan Council of Churches that seeks to dismantle systems of oppression in South Sudan. According to Shelvis, the agency “sends staff to mediate before and after war, but we must be invited. The organization assists in building skillsets which often includes peacemaking training of people from several hotspots at once. We have church leaders committed to transforming the issues that are being faced. These folks are willing to go into harm’s way to assist in the transformation and to assist others who want to do the work.”
Other programs from the PC(USA), such as the South Sudan Education and Peace Project, likewise contribute to the important work of Matthew 25’s global vision by treating trauma, seeking peace, and teaching self-sustaining skills and practices such as goat farming.
So, let us pray for our local and global mission co-workers as they become the hands and feet of the Matthew 25 vision. Let us be inspired to assist them and to embody biblical justice in the communities where God has us.