Justice and Work: Restoring Creation
by Alaina Conley
On an unseasonably warm weekend in November, fellows from all over the country gathered in North Carolina for the 16th TFI National Fellows Conference. TFI has historically held two separate conferences each year – the Micah 6:8 Conference, which explores the application of justice and mercy, and the annual National Fellows Conference which focuses primarily on calling. This year, these conferences were combined into one, culminating in a theme of “The Flourishing of God’s World: A Mandate of Justice, Mercy, and Humility.” Diving deep into these topics was central for both of our keynote speakers, Eric Ha and Dr. Luke Bobo.
Eric Ha is the Chief Administrative Officer of International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization whose goal is to protect people in poverty from violence. Eric currently leads the Global Executive Office and manages the operations of the Global Leadership Team. He has experience working on cases to rescue victims of forced labor slavery and human trafficking. Eric walked us through his journey of God calling him to leave his law firm position in order to begin a career as an advisory counsel with IJM. He spent time illuminating the themes of God hating violence and promoting justice throughout the Bible. He also made it clear that part of our call as Christians is to fight against injustice. Hearing about Eric’s experiences left many fellows feeling that they should become active in this fight. He implored us to draw near to the injustice in the world, whether this is globally or locally, instead of retreating from it.
Dr. Luke Bobo currently serves as Chief Program Officer for Arrabon, a nonprofit organization which works to facilitate healing and reconciliation in Christian communities. Previously, he was the Vice President of Networks at Made to Flourish, a prominent faith and work ministry, and the director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary. During his talks, Dr. Bobo emphasized the inherent value of work, regardless of how lowly or mundane it may seem. He also addressed some common misconceptions that young people have about their prospective careers. Though many college graduates enter the workforce expecting a straightforward and simple path, Dr. Bobo challenged these perceptions and argued that most vocational journeys are rocky, filled with ups and downs.
Combining the Micah 6:8 and National Fellows Conferences into one event made the connection between justice and vocation readily apparent. God calls us to seek the good of our neighbor by standing up to injustice and by viewing our vocation as part of his restorative plan. Dr. Bobo pointed towards Jeremiah 29:7, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper,” to highlight what God calls us to do in order to promote flourishing.
Many of the Fellows program directors led breakout sessions throughout the weekend. The topics ranged from generosity, ministry, and civil dialogue, to rest, resumes, and squeezing the life out of fellows. When they were not sitting under the instruction of these impressive men and women, the fellows participated in a square dance facilitated by the Raleigh Fellows and enjoyed the friendly competition of an ultimate frisbee tournament which ended in the crowning of the Trinity Fellows as champions. Each night, fellows from different programs joined together to make a joyful noise, using music to unite the entire conference in the worship of our God. In addition to the worship led by the fellows, North Carolina State’s premier gospel choir, Uninhibited Praise, offered their voices for two of the sessions.
There was a visible power in the mission and reach of TFI present amongst the dedicated directors and fellows who care deeply about justice and vocation and God’s good purpose for our work.
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