As a Politics student who has lived all my life so far in the North of England, regional and local politics are important to me. My interest in politics is closely linked to my faith – I strongly feel that it is God’s work to tackle issues of inequality, poverty, disenfranchisement, and prejudice.
To do such work, it helps to have a developed understanding of political systems and how to bring about change within them. Consequently, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I and others, as students, Christians and people who care about the downtrodden, can make a change. This process and the results of it can vary, meaning the challenge is difficult and often a source of disillusionment.
So, in this light, it gives me great enthusiasm and hope when I talk about JPIT Yorkshire, which was officially launched in Leeds on Saturday 4 March. The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) is a “venture of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland” who work together on issues of justice and inequality. So far, JPIT has been doing work mainly on a national level, based in London but seeking to help those in need all over Britain.
As you have probably guessed by now, JPIT Yorkshire is a Yorkshire-based and Yorkshire-focused offshoot of JPIT which holds the same aims as the national organisation, but seeks to carry these aims out on a region-specific basis. JPIT has driven and led campaigns on the issues of benefit sanctions and foodbanks; it has worked to overcome divisions caused by the EU referendum; and it has specifically addressed false portrayals of the impoverished which were carried out by mainstream media outlets.
So, what does JPIT Yorkshire mean for Christian students, and specifically students in the North of England? What I take from the launch of this organisation is, as mentioned above, hope.
Hope, not just as an abstract thought, but rather a practical kind of hope. Within this hope lies a sense of mission; a sense of duty and desire to help the less fortunate. I believe that the presence of organisations such as JPIT Yorkshire show that mission is both necessary and recognised. As JPIT Yorkshire has just been launched, the details of how to get involved are a still a bit roughly drawn, yet its launch shows what can be done, what should be done, and what will be done about the issues society faces.
Therefore, I would suggest that – as Christian students – we take hope from, and try to get involved with, mission-based organisations. The launch of JPIT Yorkshire presents an opportunity, particularly for students in Yorkshire, and specifically Leeds, to get involved with mission, renew their sense of duty in helping the less fortunate, and to really think about what we can do as followers of Jesus to change society for the better.
As it is so powerfully put in Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said “Here am I. Send me!”