(YM360 Note: youthministry360 "Networking" posts are designed to spread the word about people and ministries doing great work for the Kingdom. Phil Cunningham is one of these people. When we saw the "Steps of Justice" prayer guide, we wanted every youth worker we know to see it. At youthministry360, we have a heart to see God's Church seek out the "least of these" and minister to them in the name of Christ. We think "Steps of Justice" is one of those resources that will help open your students' eyes to the work they can do to help eradicate the effects of poverty and oppression in the name of Christ.)
My name is Phil Cunningham, but you can call me Philter if you want. I want to share with you a little bit of my story and what God has been up to in my life . . .
In 2004 I was asked to write a prayer focus on areas of injustice for a program I run for Youth With A Mission (YWAM) called Mission Adventures. I began researching and writing on things like human trafficking, poverty, the sex industry, hunger, gender injustice, etc. The more I looked around, the more I saw just how screwed up the world was. But, I also saw how far I was personally from carrying on the work of Christ, as I am called to do.
I grew up thinking that to follow Jesus meant to pray, read the Bible, go to church, and invite others to come with me. Maybe you did, too. All the research and writing I was doing for the prayer focus had really messed me up. I knew I had been changed.
By the time I finished the prayer focus, I realized I had stepped into a world I could not step out of. So, I ran with it. My next step after the prayer focus was to tell as many people as I could about how messed up the world is. I started talking about it to my friends, in church, at Bible studies, and prayer meetings. Everywhere I went and everyone I met knew that I cared about these issues. But after a while just telling people in my network wasn't enough. It was time to take a bigger step.
Two years ago I had the chance to speak at a school that YWAM runs called DTS (Discipleship Training School). This was no 30-minute talk. This was 11 hours of speaking on injustice over the span of five days. I was terrified and thought, "there is no way I can talk that long." But, I knew it was the next step for me so I walked into it. Since then I have spoken twice in Winnipeg, Canada and once in New Zealand. This fall I am going back to New Zealand with my family for three more weeks of teaching followed by a week back in Winnipeg.
The more I talked in these schools the more I realized that there was still more to do, more steps for me to take. Was simply talking about it enough? Was raising awareness enough? And then it hit me . . . What if we made a 30 day prayer/action guide that 1) made teenagers (and youth workers) aware of the injustice happening in our world each day, 2) encouraged them to pray for the people involved, and 3) connected them to other ministries who are fighting injustice? The result? The Steps Of Justice 30-Day Prayer/Action Guide.
This highly visual and interactive prayer guide is the result of my good friend, Wayne Shaun, and me spending many, many hours (days, weeks, months) working, scheming, dreaming, to see something beautiful like this come together. I encourage you to visit the site, Steps of Justice, and download the free Steps of Justice Prayer Guide PDF. Check out the guide (free) and consider taking your students through this 30-day journey. Then, you can either purchase a printable version, or order the Steps of Justice book, which will be ready in early July.
I am excited to see and hear what the next steps are for us. And also excited about your next steps . . . how God is going to use you to help reach those in the world who most need the love and compassion of Christ. It's all about the next step, what is yours?
- What are you teaching your students that's helping them expand their worldview and actively seek out ways to reach the poor and the needy?
- What programming are you doing that is facilitating this?