I am glad my friend introduced to me to one of Cali’s best craftsmen. In just a couple of hours, I witnessed him, carefully selecting pieces of dismembered scrap bicycle parts. It seems as though he was assembling a jigsaw puzzle as he double checked every piece. Finally from his personal 3 metre scrap pile, he assembled an entire rainbow bicycle in the form of an artistic fusion of old and newish parts. Unfortunately, I had to come back the next morning to pick up the master piece, as he insisted that he had to “clothe it,” which meant spray painting the bicycle.
Since then bike riding is my most fruitful hobby. I get to reflect a lot whilst I’m cycling. Recently I realised that my bicycle resembles my neighbourhood. Aguablanca has a rare beauty, a mix of different infrastructures, some neighbourhoods have new buildings and paved streets, some have old abandoned flats with dusty roads, some sites are always under construction, and there are a lot of illegal neighbourhoods (these are areas that have massive squatter camps were homeless people camp in overnight). Above all, the cultural diversity, music and smiles spray paint away all the scrap and underlying problems.
To me the social injustice is apparent as the inconsistency of living standards is clearly visible. Just a few blocks away from my neighbourhood is a squatter camp, which is full of homeless people. They spend the day dodging the police, going through the trash for recyclable materials to earn themselves a living, whilst some dine on drug concoctions. This is the scenario that has been a huge challenge to me. What is supposed to be my stance as a Christian? How do we serve in an environment with so many social indifferences? I feel as though there is little I can do.
I imagined scores of displaced people, drug addicts, and victims of the system, questioning Jesus. He would be their advocate and he would directly confront the authorities with wit and sincerity. Jesus did far much more than advocacy, he touched a man that he knew would be illegal to touch (Matthew 8:1-3). Jesus even reached out to the gentiles at that time these were the untouchables and by society believed to be unclean (John 4). He advocated for the poor (Mathew 25:31-46). Though it seems like an impossible task I think it is our social responsibility, these are type of steps we should take.
In Zimbabwe we have a popular phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” the direct translation would be “A person’s humanity is the peoples,” this phrase is used to explain our role as individuals in our societies. This means that we should not give a cold shoulder to any injustice or problems that we see in our communities. Christian service does not end in within the Sunday service, neither is it for members only; hence advocacy is a form of service which Christians could adopt. The Acronym below is quoted from Dr. James E. Read’s[i] book “Jesus Justice.” It illustrates a form in which Christians could advocate. Though I still struggle with the reality of my community I still keep my hope in Jesus Christ the prince of peace.
Addresses issues of injustice
Designs strategies to alter systems
Values vulnerable people as agents of change
Offers expertise to implement objectives
Convinces power structures to alter policies
Accesses like-minded people to join the cause
Changes policies, practices and perceptions
Yearns for justice that leads to sustainability