CSA hopes to involve students through prayer meetings
Senior and Coalition for Social Action assistant chair Jason Brown | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES
How do the East African famine, human trafficking industry and immigration debate affect the actions and attitudes of a student in La Mirada? For students involved in the Associated Students’ Coalition for Social Action, their response to issues of social justice are an integral demonstration of their Christian faith.
Senior political science major and CSA assistant chair Jason Brown believes that social justice is at the heart of the gospel and a direct reflection of a society’s relation to God.
“I think that an unjust society is a society that isn’t totally redeemed,” he said.
Prayer to serve as launching point for students
Sophomore and Coalition for Social Action chair Sarah Croswhite | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES
A recent series of prayer meetings held by CSA served as an opportunity for students to engage with the coalition and bring their voice to the social justice dialogue. The intent of these meetings has been to “fellowship and intercede for different social justice issues, both local and abroad,” according to the coalition’s event promotional posters.
Current CSA chair Sarah Croswhite, a sophomore intercultural studies major, believes these prayer meetings can play an integral role in spurring community involvement in the social justice discussion.
“We want to be continually involved in the student body, hearing their input, hearing what they’d like to do, what’s on their hearts and just connecting with them,” Croswhite said. “It’s just a space to talk about the things we’re thinking about and then pray about these things.”
CSA is committed to confronting the issue of social justice at the local and global level. In 2008, CSA was established as a part of the Associated Students’ programming and events division. Each year, the coalition is directed by the CSA chair and an assistant chair. A small group of volunteers assists in planning and executing CSA events and chapels.
Brown believes these prayer meetings are essential for the coalition to remain true to God’s standard of justice.
“Prayer is completely integral,” he said. “These prayer meetings are not only for us to pray to God but also for us to connect to God’s heart for justice and build our compassion and empathy for those who are experiencing injustice.”
CSA hopes to expose students to social issues
Senior Jessica Jesudasen | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES
Topics of discussion, both in these prayer meetings and in the work of CSA as a whole, have reflected the broad reach of social justice concerns. This year, CSA chapels and awareness weeks have invited students to explore the definition of social justice, the role of social justice in light of the gospel, environmental issues and the Christian response to the immigration debate.
Despite the broad range of topics discussed and the freedom given to students to offer their own voices, attendance to recent prayer meetings has been lower than the coalition anticipated. Three students attended the first prayer meeting on April 6, according to Brown.
Brown believes the low numbers of attendance may be tied to the community’s misunderstanding of the importance of social justice when it is weighed against evangelical ministry.
“Social justice is not [evangelism’s] ugly cousin,” he said. “Social justice is also not excluding preaching. When we go in and engage a society — even our own culture — for justice, we’re proclaiming the good news that the Lord has come and wants us to lead a different life.”
Senior nursing major Jessica Jesudasen is looking forward to expanding the reach of CSA as she serves as next year’s coordinator for the coalition. She believes that social justice issues are evident in every society. While the idea of social justice is often viewed at a global level, injustice is evident in Biola’s surrounding neighborhoods. Citing Mark 12:30-31, Jesudasen is committed to exploring the biblical understanding of loving one’s neighbor as themselves, breaking the apathy that can settle into everyday life.
“I feel like sometimes we get so caught up with our lives as students that we don’t even really want to ask the person next to us how they’re doing,” she said. “If we can break our apathy in this area, we can open ourselves to those outside our own little world, too.”
Jesudasen hopes to magnify the coalition’s role on campus by planning larger events and hosting noteworthy speakers to address issues of social justice. She is currently developing a plan of action to provide students with a basic understanding of social justice and how it informs every level of society.