When I was five years old, I woke up crying in the middle of the night. We were in the middle of a house move, and I couldn’t remember where the toilet was in our new flat. My mum came and sat on my bed, dried my tears and said what she always said when I woke from a nightmare: “Should we give our fear to Jesus?” And then we prayed.

From a young age, my parents taught me that I could always give my fears, anxieties, uncertainties and worries to Jesus – from monsters under the bed right through to exam results. 

But these were all my personal fears. When I got into activism and social justice at university, leading Just Love Durham, I quickly realised that when it came to my concerns for others, I would hold to them tighter than a child clings to their first ice-cream of summer.

And that’s a direct route to burnout. When we shoulder the weight of injustice – large or small – on our own, thinking that it is only by our efforts that things change, we quickly find ourselves buckling under the weight.


But God calls us – His church, His hands and feet on earth – to do the work of justice, to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20), to love not with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

So, how do we obey this call for justice, whilst also not growing weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9)? How do we model this to the next generation – a generation known for its passion, its activism, its change-the-world’ attitude? How can we give them the tools to sustain their faith throughout?

In my work at International Justice Mission (IJM), a global movement seeking to end slavery and violence against people living in poverty, scarcely a day goes by when I don’t find myself gut-punched by the sheer volume of suffering around the world.

How do we keep going? How do we not burn out? We don’t always get it right, but there are three things that we come back to time and again in our fight for justice:

1. Prayer

At IJM each staff member prays for one hour a day. Half an hour of stillness’ in the morning and then 30 minutes of team prayer later on. Asking for God’s help, His guidance, praying for upcoming rescue operations, pending trials and just the everyday, ordinary things that make up the long journey of justice.

It’s not a magic formula, and it’s certainly not always easy – one hour of your working day spent doing what often feels like the very opposite of working when there are an estimated 40 million people trapped in slavery. Humanly speaking, it can seem to make no sense.

And yet, somehow, it makes sense of everything. Prayer is unlike anything else. Through the power of prayer, we have seen freedom made possible for hundreds of people at a time. We have seen individual children found in a city of millions. We have seen miraculous convictions and structural changes we were told were impossible. And we have seen our faith grow – even in the face of evil and injustice. Prayer is a superpower, and it sustains us as we walk.

2. God’s weight, our work, Jesus’ way

The work of justice – of activism, of making wrong things right – is heavy. It takes its toll. But it is not our weight to carry – it is God’s. As Christians, we are called to do the work, but not to carry the weight. And so, we throw the weight off onto God – those children waiting to be rescued from human trafficking, the trials being continually delayed, those big meetings, the partnerships we long to see but seem impossible. He is big enough, strong enough and mighty enough to carry the weight. Plus, let’s be honest, it was His in the first place. Justice is part of God’s big story, redeeming the whole of creation, and – believe it or not – He cares about it even more than we do. The weight is not ours to bear.

But we are called to do the work – whatever that looks like. So we do what we can – investigating, prosecuting abusers, caring for survivors, writing talks, making connections, crunching numbers – to participate in God’s big mission of justice through His people here on earth. We do it Jesus’ way – with love, patience, faithfulness. And we leave the rest to God.

3. Culture of joy

It’s a fruit of the Spirit but boy can it be hard to come by in the face of injustice; and yet, joy is the oxygen for doing hard things in the world. Laughter, worship, friendship: at IJM we prioritise joy because it is the joy of the Lord which is our strength. This is a joy which doesn’t depend on circumstances or whether there is suffering present because – spoiler alert – this side of eternity, there will always be suffering present – but because we know that God is good.

That means celebrating wins – the child freed, the conviction secured, the police officers trained – but it also means acknowledging that, when things don’t go as we had hoped, God is still good. He is still on the throne. He is still the resurrected king. And He’s still bearing the weight. And that, ultimately, is why we can keep going. That’s what inspires our long obedience in the same direction”, that’s what fuels the work of justice and prevents us from burning out or giving up.

God bears the weight. We do the work. We walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Joy is our oxygen and prayer is our superpower.

This blog is part of 7 Conversations, a suite of interactive, integrated resources for leaders in local settings seeking to understand young adults and bring them into a rock-solid relationship with Jesus.

7 conversations your church needs to have to reach young adults

7 conversations your church needs to have to reach young adults

A suite of resources to help your church reach, engage and disciple 20s and 30s Find out more