by Stephanie Marinelli
I was working in the sales department of an aviation company. My days were busy, but something was missing. I was filling the hours with tasks that were meaningless to me. I wasn’t content but didn’t know how to change my life. I wasn’t searching for a new opportunity, but God pursued me.
I’ve spent the past 15 months as an intern at the International Social Justice Commission (ISJC). Leaving my job and coming to this internship was a leap of faith. I wasn’t prepared for the transformation God had in store.
Transitions are not easy. Life in New York City looks very different from life in the Midwest. At first, I found myself lonely and overwhelmed; I felt like my shortcomings were under a magnifying glass. But my willingness to leave my job and step into uncertainty was my offering to the Lord, and He honored it. God has given me new passions, and I have experienced how incredible it is to allow God to use those passions to further His Kingdom.
Dedicating more than an entire year to learning about biblical social justice has been priceless. Now each time I open my Bible, words jump out that never had before. I’ve learned social justice should be a foundational part of our faith. One of the challenges that came with learning about social justice is understanding and accepting that God asks a lot from me. He doesn’t just want to change one or two parts of my life, but all of it. I can’t compartmentalize my faith; it must permeate my whole life.
The best way to see social justice in action is to look at Jesus. He treated the poor, vulnerable and oppressed with dignity and respect. Jesus valued people for who they were, not for what they had done. He healed the sick. He invited the hungry, outcast and poor to spend time with Him. He noticed those society overlooked. He made right what was wrong. At the ISJC, we adopted part of the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6 to summarize our mission, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As Christians, you and I are not meant to focus only on ourselves and our personal relationships with God. We are meant to be agents of change. It’s easy to believe we are not capable of changing much. However, we serve a God who is capable of miraculous things. God is delighted when we submit ourselves to His will.
Thinking back to when I first came to New York, I relied on my own strength. But as I learned to trust God more and grew in my love for Him, something amazing happened. I began to want the same things for my life that God wanted for me. Following Christ will require sacrifice, but I’ve found that along the way a shift happens, and there is joy in the sacrifice.
The decision to follow God by interning at the ISJC was not simply a detour on my life’s path. It set me on a completely different path. I’ve returned home to work in the world missions department at Central Territorial Headquarters where I will continue to fulfill God’s mission for my life.