Reflections on bringing God’s kingdom to Washington

Rebecca Babirye just completed her internship focusing on foreign policy and reflects here on her time in the MCC Washington Office.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

From the very first day with MCC, everyone welcomed me as a member of the team. We started the day with staff meeting in which the employees gave updates on the different advocacy issues at their desks and then a reflection on John 15. This chapter could not have been more timely because after hearing the different updates, my head was spinning and I was feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of the issues we were dealing with—racism, gun violence, climate change, food security, and the Middle East crisis. The issues seemed daunting for a recent graduate whose experience in advocacy was limited. It was therefore reassuring to hear Jesus’ words encouraging us to abide in him. It was only through him that we could bear fruit, and we could stand in hope that one day, his light would displace all the despair in our world. Over the next four months of my internship, I commuted in and out of “holy frustration” with the systemic evil and pondered my ability and role in addressing it. It was in those moments that I found solace in Jesus’ words.

My interest in advocacy work was born out of disappointment in the priorities of U.S. political leaders. Some of their policies seemed to disregard the plight of refugees both within and outside their borders, and it seemed pretentious that they then prized themselves as “welcoming” of the most vulnerable. I think it naiveté now that I thought and hoped that, through the four-month internship, I would learn the nuts and bolts of policy making, and instinctively know how to stop a bad policy from affecting my refugee students and friends. It took me only one visit to the Capitol Hill to realize that it was more complex than I had imagined.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from my internship.

  • Our Hill visits and numerous meetings, both in-house and out of the office, reminded me of the limitation of our power and knowledge as human beings. No one’s knowledge is impartial or perfect, so we have to be wary of any politics that promises to solve all our problems. However, this limitation frees us to act not to save the world but to have a faithful presence. We do not have to hold onto our self-righteousness but be willing to participate in politics, messy as they are. Our faith voice is unique, thus, indispensable.
  • Our faith voice doesn’t guarantee change, yet we remain committed in our work for peace and justice. Victory is not the ultimate pursuit. Faithfulness is.

I conclude my internship with a joyful confidence in a God who has conquered evil in this world. I will continue participating as a co-worker in the building of a peaceful kingdom that is here but not fully.

 

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