World change is how we roll
World change is how we roll
13 December 2016
"World change" is a buzzphrase for millennials but, far from being a whimsical ideal, young Salvationists in Australia have grasped it with both hands. Jessica Morris talked to two young Salvos, Caitlin Hallett and Amanda Merrett, about their year-long intern experience at The Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) in New York City, where they had a front-row seat to the inner workings of the United Nations.
Why did you apply to intern at the ISJC?
Caitlin: I became a soldier of Ringwood Corps and was reading through the story of Jesus’ disciple Peter in Matthew 14. I was challenged to rely and trust in God as I follow his plan for my life and therefore applied to become an intern at the ISJC.
Amanda: I had just finished my undergraduate degree in psychology and was working as a PA for a Baptist minister. I was talking to Mum, explaining that I was thinking of resigning, and she off-handedly said: "Well, you can always apply for the social justice internship in New York City." So, I did!
What were your main tasks as an intern?
Caitlin: I was required to represent and participate in meetings at the United Nations and with other committees, complete a research project for the purposes of educating the wider Salvation Army and actively serve in ministry at a corps in the Greater New York Division. The research project I completed was entitled, ‘Combating food insecurity and hunger: the growth and effectiveness of Salvation Army food banks’.
Amanda: I represented The Salvation Army on several NGO groups and conducted research on the role of women’s ministries in alleviating poverty. The interns were considered part of the working team at the ISJC, so we attended staff meetings and strategic planning meetings.
How did your view of God and his passion for justice develop during your internship?
Caitlin: I gained a greater understanding of the interrelationship between social justice, holiness and worship. A Christian understanding of social justice comes from the recognition of God’s Kingdom and character and the God-given dignity and worth of every human being.
Amanda: It expanded my view of the world and the churches’ calling to the world. I was able to see how the Church operates outside the four walls. It also opened my eyes to the incredible pain felt by people around the world. I spent a lot of time wrestling with what I was observing, and seeking God in that.
Why is the work of the ISJC so important?
Amanda: The ISJC is important for Salvationists because it provides a global perspective on social justice and it is strategically placed to be a voice for justice. It highlights the connectedness of our world and the ways we can partner with a multitude of organisations, Salvation Army centres and faith communities to bring justice.
What surprised you about your internship?
Caitlin: This was my first time living abroad, independently and away from my family. I was able to become more dependent on God and felt the reality that God’s family exists all over the world. The quality of the friendships I formed was a wonderful surprise, as I did not know anyone before I arrived.
What’s your favourite memory from your time at ISJC?
Caitlin: I was able to minister to the beneficiaries at the Adult Rehabilitation Centre and run Bible study every week for about five months. This was a tangible way that I could live out the principles of social justice in my life, make disciples and invest in others.
Amanda: I was able to sit in the United Nations Security Council, as world leaders literally argued over how to best handle the tensions arising in Syria. I was reminded that I have a responsibility to use what power I have in a way that honours people and brings the Kingdom.
How has your internship impacted your work in Australia?
Caitlin: I am able to advocate more effectively with and for clients at the SalvoCare Eastern Bridge Program, navigate complex social and political systems and empower others.
Amanda: My time at the ISJC reinforced the understanding that in order for me to speak alongside people living in poverty, I must first be in relationship with people living in poverty.
Are you interested in interning at the ISJC? Go to www.salvationarmy.org/isjc for more information.