Clark Buys – Reflections on The Justice Conference Global 2021
It was an ambitious undertaking: a truly global, 24hr digital conference hosted across 3 time zones, featuring 115 contributors from 23 countries sharing on countless topics and issues around biblical justice.
For us as a team, one of the really exciting parts of the planning phase of the conference was dreaming about who we could invite to contribute in one way or another. When we started to book speakers like Prof. Katharine Hayhoe, Lisa Sharon Harper, Danielle Strickland, Krish Kandiah and René August, the excitement in the team really began to swell.
Eventually the big day arrived and was kicked off by our friends and colleagues in Hong Kong. Seeing all the people in the chat commenting and connecting from all around the world was really special. It was surreal to think all these people, in their own spaces and places around the world – from Nigeria to New Zealand to Nepal to the Netherlands – were on a journey that shared this common aim of seeking biblical justice for the world around us.
Undoubtedly, the keynote talk from Prof. Katharine Hayhoe was one of the highlights of the conference for me. As encouraging as her talk was, I was also hit afresh with the desperate and dangerous situation this world is in, and how urgent and holistic our response needs to be.
Another hard-hitting keynote talk came from Kuki Rokhum who is part of the Senior Leadership team with The Evangelical Fellowship of India Commision on Relief (EFICOR). Kuki Rokhum spoke powerfully of her country drowning in the second wave of COVID-19 and, at the same time, under the looming threat of a cyclone. (Kuki’s keynote is publicly available here).
If I’m honest, as I listened to people around the world talk about the challenges they’re facing and the complex systemic injustices in their contexts I felt a range of emotions. I felt sad, frustrated, angry and annoyed. How can this be? How can this be the state that the world is in? Why are all these problems so big and complex and overwhelming?
It’s hard leaning into injustice. It’s hard listening to pain and suffering. And it’s particularly hard to recognise the various ways in which I’m complicit in so much of the broken systems and unjust realities in the world.
But as I continued to listen I noticed another type of emotion emerge. A sort of quiet, unreasonable resilience.
I was so impacted by this sense of being a part of this global community. Not just those who are well known and have platforms and sizeable social media followings. I was stirred by being alongside a global community of everyday, ordinary folk compelled by Jesus and his kingdom of justice and righteousness. A community of people seeking justice in all sorts of areas of life in all corners of the globe. A community that’s not always the loudest or most ‘headline grabbing’. But a community that so often is just plugging away, doing our best, giving our all serving faithfully. We’re often in the background, under the radar. You might say, a little like yeast in bread, or salt on some food.
It’s this global community that I love being a part of and that keeps stirring me in my own journey of following Jesus and pursuing justice. It’s this community that The Justice Conference is both a part of and fosters and nurtures. Miraculously, graciously, God is present and at work within this community acting to redeem and restore all things – a truly ambitious undertaking indeed!
Clark Buys is the Senior Development Manager for The Justice Conference. He also works as a theology researcher at Tearfund, grappling with all sorts of theological issues that relate to Tearfund's work of international development, poverty alleviation and justice. He has previously co-led and pastored at Kingsgate Church in South West London. and is a trained Spiritual Director offering spiritual accompaniment to Jesus-followers. Clark blogs at www.everythingeden.org.