Gerald Coates speaks on behalf of Christian Aid at the Christian Resources Exhibition.
By Linda Anderson.
Gerald Coates is the national leader of the Pioneer Church network of charismatic churches. This year at the Christian Resources Exhibition Christian Aid sponsored Gerald to speak. His brief – the call to Act Justly.
A good sized audience warmed to Gerald immediately as he described the ways in which various denominations might have responded to his “Good afternoon”. He went on to tell a little of his background in advertising – and his experience of being Baptised in the Holy Spirit which led to him being asked to leave his church.
He left his well paid job to become a postman – giving him time to lead a small but growing house church. Not just a biographical detail but an illustration – although financially he was now relatively poor he was not powerless. True poverty is about powerlessness. He quoted Bono at Live 8 – the need to move beyond charity to justice, as the prophet Isaiah said “To loose the chains of injustice”.
The movement to Make Poverty History has seen people from the liberal and evangelical wings of the church coming together. Christian Aid’s traditional support has come from the more established churches but Gerald’s presence on our behalf illustrates the way in which we are engaging evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic churches.
Throughout his talk Gerald referred to the Act Justly booklet. Act Justly – available to download here, is a set of resources designed to encourage in particular new churches and small groups to engage with these issues – with the need to move beyond charity.
For example, one unit in the booklet looks at Trade Justice. In some developing countries an influx of rice, frozen chicken and other foodstuffs from rich countries has driven down prices and made it impossible for local farmers to sell their produce and support their families. This means that people go hungry and children cannot go to school. Justice and not charity is needed to right the situation.
Gerald also spoke movingly of his visit to Uganda where women were unjustly being blamed for the spread of HIV/AIDS infection. Their need was not for charity but for justice – which was brought about by good education. HIV infection in Uganda has subsequently dropped from 13% to 4%!
Summing up, Gerald urged his audience to take the resources, to use them to educate people in their churches, and to remember that we might not be able to change the world, but perhaps we can change someone’s world somewhere. Let’s start to Act Justly.
• Act Justly