““From Charity to Justice, the Changing Paradigm of Mission” ”
In 2009, I visited South Africa for the first time with a South African friend and preacher. The
trip inspired and rejuvenated me. I decided to return the following year. During that visit, the
pastor of W.W. Brown Church (Soweto) asked me to meet with the church youth. I met with
the youth and their strong faith and humility moved and inspired me and inspired me to bring
Allen Temple youth to South Africa. Inspired by this encounter I developed a cultural
exchange, service learning, and capacity building program—Faith In Action (FIAT). I returned
to South Africa in 2011 with a group of youth from Allen Temple, and again in 2014, 2016, and
2019. African American millennials, who identify as Christian today, seem to be less
passionate about their faith, and less committed to church membership and participation than
their parents and grandparents.
Our FIAT cultural exchange, service learning, and capacity building program seems to help
youth and young adults in Oakland, California, and Soweto, South Africa, reconnect with their
faith, and connect their faith to their desire to change their circumstances, and the
circumstances of their communities. In short, young people who have participated in what
evolved into our FIAT program, missioners and hosts alike, because of their involvement, seem
to be able to connect their faith with both their personal concerns and their innate need/desire
to engage in social justice advocacy.
After eight years of programming, we now seek to better document and evaluate our FIAT
program, including standardizing our training curriculum and training materials and building in
an evaluation component to the program.