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Young, ambitious and just

How does sharing God’s heart for justice affect your fledgling career?

From organ transplantation to designing homes, these young Christians reflect on the challenges of taking God’s call to care for His people seriously.

Saving lives

What would you do if you had to choose between an alcoholic or past drug user and a baby? That’s the reality researchers in my field face. As a PhD student who specialises in organ transplantation, I’ve witnessed the life of one person being ranked more highly than another. We depend on grants to support our research, and while my lab has been blessed with funding due to our timely projects that utilise cutting-edge technology, when involved with specific cases, the money hasn’t been quite so easy to access.

Funding bodies often argue that most liver transplant patients have self-harmed and so it has been harder to obtain financial support for research into this procedure. Funding bodies choose the baby, deeming £50,000+ to fund research into babies who need heart transplants due to congenital heart disease a more worthwhile spend than helping those who drank themselves to needing a new liver.

In the face of this, I hold onto God’s ethics. I don’t discriminate, as my job is to help as many people as I can, especially if I find a new line that offers a cure, even for those who inflicted damage upon themselves. Here I see parallels with my faith in Jesus, as Christians are called to love and tend to all people.

I so value life, all life, that even when it comes to my own experiments, where I have to use mice for testing, I struggle. We are taught to love God’s creatures. We are also taught not to kill. So how could I justify my actions, even if they are just’ mice?

So, I undertake thorough preliminary research so as to use as few mice as possible in my testing. But, I can’t do it without God; I need Him to give me strength and help me remain focused on the objective, which is to find a cure for an illness. In praying to Him, I’m reminded that the lives of these beautiful creatures are not in vain but an honourable part of creating life-saving medicine.

Yasmin Mohseni, third-year PhD student specialising in Immunology at King’s College London

Social action

A lot of us ask, why? We have questions about suffering, austerity, poverty, justice, inequality. I ask myself, how? How can I bring about positive change? How can I be the solution? I believe Christians are called to step up and be the change that God wants to see in the world. For this reason, I take social action. I choose to not be on the sidelines.

I’m passionate about people, so I invest in the next generation, helping them to see who they are in Christ, so that they are rooted in His ethics and identity. I’m a youth and young adults pastor of New Covenant Church UK, where I lead around 40 young people aged between 11 and 17 within the Streatham, south London, branch, and some 300 18 to 35-year-olds nationally.

In a socially relevant way, I engage and inspire these young people, some of whom have left behind unlawful pasts. For example, I’m involved with a yearly event called the Valour Conference, which helps participants to feel empowered to be godly in all aspects of their lives – faith, finances and relationships, for example.

Then there’s the National Citizen Service, a personal and social development programme for teenagers, through which I bring together young people from all faith backgrounds and none, to plan and deliver a social action project in their community. You see, I was fortunate: I grew up with godly, positive, aspirational roles models, who had an incredible influence on my life. The least I can do is emulate that in the lives of others.

Politics is another area that is close to my heart. Stirred by biblical characters such as Daniel and Esther, who took a stand and played a key role in shaping policy, I think about how I and other young Christians can do the same. We might not have the credentials to be a politician right now, nor millions of pounds to invest in ethical initiatives, but I encourage us to ask ourselves: what can we do now? How can we play an active role in our communities? I have campaigned for my local community to be safer and cleaner. I also ran for local council. Whether it’s a YouTube channel or getting involved with our local communities, we can do something – it’s our godly mandate to do so.

Olaoluwa Kolade, president, young adults group, New Covenant Church UK, and a member of the One People Commission Young Adult Minister Forum

Holistic health

I believe that a big part of ethical living stems from seeing other people as God sees them. God loves each of us unconditionally and in view of that, how can I treat God’s beloved unfairly or with contempt or refuse to give them a fair wage for the work that they have done?

For me, I see my work as a physiotherapist as an opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet as He restores function and brings healing to our broken world. I love my job, seeing it as a beautiful symbol of that restoration. I work in one of the most deprived areas in Glasgow, where the fallenness of humanity is at times, perhaps, more obvious than it is in more affluent areas.

In my work I seek to bring healing, not just in the physical but the emotional and spiritual dimensions, as I believe that Jesus is interested in all our facets. Physiotherapy is a profession which sees the importance of the holistic care and for my part, I see clearly in my day-to-day work humanity’s need for the healing and wholeness of Jesus.
In our Western society it is so easy to think that we are good people or that we have all that we need, be it financially or even from our healthcare system or relationships, but in actual fact we have all fallen short of God’s perfect standard and may at times seek our fulfilment in relationships or our wealth or health rather than in our relationship with our Father. We all need God’s restoration.

My work is my opportunity to serve and worship God. I know that God loves each of my patients with an intense, undying love. I know that each of them has been made in His image, and when I love them wholeheartedly I bring glory to Him. I believe that while I may have some influence over their physical disability or pain, only God can bring healing in the other areas of their life, so I pray as I treat them, that God would bring restoration to each of their individual brokenness and pain. I also try to bring each of them before God as I read through my list in the morning. I see this as my way of loving the whole patient and trusting their healing to the one true healer.
So, for me, ethical living is aiming to live in a way that brings honour to God by loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Becky Dunphy, physiotherapist, Glasgow and a member of a Malawi-based charity

Better building

The housing crisis is a very important issue. The situation in Scotland, where I’m based, isn’t as bad as London, although charity Shelter said earlier this year that Edinburgh risks repeating the housing mistakes that are well documented down south. But, affordability and availability are things I think about, and down the line I’d like to find creative ways to address these problems.

Planning permission is one of the obstacles to developers building enough homes. This is influenced by the perception people have of development: we often see it as a bad thing when homes are built where there were none before, rather than believing that building can have a positive impact on a place. Part of the solution to the housing crisis and the availability of homes is to create good places that promote community and wellbeing. I believe that making places that people love can help us to see development as good and loosen the brakes that stall the planning process.

Eight years ago I founded architectural practice Vellow Wood, to design bespoke homes that make owners’ lives better by nurturing what they cherish most – be it personal space or family life, for example – and embrace their values, sense of self and dreams. We think about passersby and the wider community as well, and ensure our designs improve the streetscape and public spaces and facilitate relationships between people.

Ethics is not just about eliminating the bad stuff’ from what we’re doing; God calls us to go beyond that and have a positive impact. When we view people holistically, view home as not just a physical object, and design for more than just the practical, we value people for who they are, not how much they have. My faith isn’t separate from my work; my work is the expression of my faith.

I think we shouldn’t underestimate the influence we can have in our everyday lives or day-to-day job. In the product we create, the service we offer, when we do it well, we get to build and remake the world, better. Our seemingly small actions, our individual blocks, are part of something bigger. I can’t change the world on my own (God’s plan is a lot of bigger than me), but my small actions have a real impact. I try to remind myself of that.

Philip Benton, founder of Vellow Wood Architecture

Faithful fashion

Climate change is real, happening and man-made. The production of our clothes, which is the second most polluting industry in the world, is one of the biggest contributors to this issue. As we continue to consume as if we had three planets rather than the one, people living in the most vulnerable conditions are paying the price. After visiting Bangladesh, Jordan and India, to explore the impact of clothing manufacturing, I wanted to set a new ethical standard, so I decided to launch an ethical fashion brand called Know The Origin. 

We work with producers who aim to eradicate poverty, including Chetna, a farmer-owned co-operative which provides training on food security so farmers can grow food crops alongside their cotton and keep their farmland free from harmful chemicals. This means farming families have better health and aren’t trapped in a cycle of debt. We also work with Freeset factory, which supports women who have chosen to leave trafficking or prostitution in India. Freeset has so far provided more than 500 stable jobs with fair pay, counselling and a place for the women to be safe and experience God.

For me, ethical living means doing business in a different way – a way that honours people and adds value to those who make our clothes, uses profits to support programmes that are restoring the current system, and uses our business as an example of how to produce ethically. I believe that we are called to care for our global neighbours, many of whom are in poverty and don’t have a voice to speak up against injustice. We have such freedom and our voices are loud, yet we are often some of the quietest when it comes to advocating for the poor. Proverbs 31:8 – 9 says: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Jesus and justice cannot be separated. His mission was to serve, which can’t be overstated. We are called to follow His lead and go where there is need. We cannot just long to fight injustice and help the poor but allow our daily decisions as consumers have a negative effect on our global neighbours. We are called to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Sustainable living is just the start.

Charlotte Instone, founder of Know The Origin

About the author

Naomi joined the Evangelical Alliance in 2018 as editorial content manager. Positions with publishers and within the marketing and communications faculty of a higher education institution, plus stints as a reporter, have enabled the media and cultural studies graduate, who has an NCTJ diploma in newspaper journalism, to hone the necessary skills and qualities to serve members well.

See more from Naomi Osinnowo

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