In March 2008, I got an unexpected email from author Rick Warren inviting me to go to Africa with him. The catch? I had to leave in five days.
At the time, I was like a lot of people—I knew and cared about social justice, but it wasn’t personal for me. I felt like I was doing my part: We’d do an article on AIDS or another cause from time to time in RELEVANT; my wife and I would give or volunteer when we could; and I knew all the right things to say. But my comfortable, semi-urban life never really got stretched.
Sensing my own complacency starting to calcify, I jumped at the opportunity to be jolted out of my comfort zone on this trip. I just didn’t know how significantly my worldview would change in the coming weeks.
For decades, Westerners have swooped into areas of need, handed out solutions and left feeling pretty good about themselves. A new paradigm has been needed—a holistic approach that organically addresses foundational areas of need for the long haul.
Most of us want quick fixes and something we can take a picture of. We want to text our $10 donation and move on with our lives. But true change is far more complex and difficult. It will require more of us.
That’s what the trip with Warren helped open my eyes to. We traveled through Rwanda and Kenya, meeting with presidents and prime ministers and discussing need on a macro, strategic level. We also met with pastors and village leaders, visiting rural hospitals and churches on the front lines.
Warren is working to enact a unique strategy he calls the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, which brings churches, government and businesses together to address long-term areas of physical and spiritual need. At the core of his philosophy is relationship. He believes true change will require a commitment over decades—and if it is going to happen the right way, it will be our generation, not his, that sees it through.
Coming back from that first trip, my view of social justice and missions was forever altered. “Knowing” and “caring” simply wasn’t enough anymore.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to engage these issues much more deeply, not just traveling, but also working with organizations addressing areas of local and global need.
How do we learn from and partner with each other so our collective efforts have the greatest sustainable impact? How do we address urgent need, but at the same time work to break generational cycles?
How do we serve our local communities while also contributing to global turnaround? How do we help people stand on their own, and not just give handouts and Western solutions?
How do we reject apathy in our own lives, and tangibly be the hands and feet of Christ, addressing the issues close to His heart?
Unpacking these questions thoughtfully and intentionally is vital; they’re literally life and death. The challenge for us at RELEVANT, though, has been that we can only devote a certain number of pages to going deeper because we have to maintain a certain editorial balance in each issue. But only giving a few pages to something this important simply hasn’t been enough.
That’s why for more than two years we’ve been working to create a platform that can go deeper. So it’s with great excitement I can announce July 1, 2011, marks the launch of our new magazine, Reject Apathy.
Each issue will focus on changing the world the right way in five keys areas: poverty, preventable disease, violence, defense of innocents and creation care. We feel these five themes are all connected life issues—and are all on God’s heart.
Each article in Reject Apathy is meant to open eyes, challenge worldviews and spur change. There is a Take Action component throughout, showing how you can get involved using your voice, your time and your resources, and connect with organizations doing things the right way.
Reject Apathy might be the most important thing our team has ever done, and we wanted it to have the most impact possible. We will be printing and distributing more than 150,000 copies of each issue, but even more importantly: It will be free.
If you’re a subscriber to RELEVANT (thank you, by the way), you received the premiere edition of Reject Apathy in the mail with the new issue. As we publish each semi-annual edition, you’ll continue to receive it gratis.
Non-subscribers can get Reject Apathy at select college campuses and events across the country, and at the all-new RejectApathy.com, which is relaunching mid-July.
Our prayer for Reject Apathy is that it will open eyes and activate our generation to a new level of sacrificial living, sustainable change and a spiritual revolution.
God has given our generation a heart for impact, and the time is right for this. A movement is beginning.
It’s time for us all to reject apathy.
Cameron Strang is the founder and CEO of RELEVANT. Connect with him on Twitter @cameronstrang or Facebook.com/cestrang. This article appears in the July 2011 issue of RELEVANT. Learn more about the premiere issue of REJECT APATHY, or receive it yourself when you subscribe.