10 August, 2023

10 August 2023

Earlier this week, 45 influential Christian women leaders brought together by Micah Australia converged in Canberra to advocate for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The Micah Women Leaders Delegation out the front of Parliament House

The Micah Women Leaders Delegation, comprised of women from over 12 church denominations and Micah’s coalition of Aid and Development members, met with 40 politicians to discuss the role Australia can play in helping to combat an increase in simultaneous global crises and create a safer world for all.

Representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church and ADRA Australia in the women’s delegation was ADRA Australia’s National Programs Director Charlene Luzuk and university chaplain Pastor Moe Stiles.

Pastor Moe Stiles and Charlene Luzuk in Canberra

“Micah has always upheld that Australia’s international development program is what best enables us as a nation to show our compassion and generosity towards our neighbours and those in greatest need, both in our region and globally,” says Beck Wilesmith, Women Leaders Network Coordinator for Micah Australia.

Australia is a signatory to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose objective is to eliminate extreme poverty and end hunger by 2030. However, due to the confluence of multiple crises in the past several years – including COVID-19, rising conflict, and climate change – these targets are now way off track. As part of Micah’s Safer World For All campaign, the delegation advocated for an increase to Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget.

“We’re challenging our parliamentarians to see what we can do as a nation to rebuild the aid budget,” says Miss Luzuk. “Our aid budget is the smallest it has been in a long time in terms of a percentage of GNI.”

On the first day, the delegates attended training on how to best raise their voices for the vulnerable in front of the politicians. The power of Micah Australia is in bringing together the churches of Australia to speak as one with a common goal.

“The NGOs and churches of all denominations came together as one, not just championing their own agendas,” says Pastor Stiles. “A few of the MPs we met with were pleased and surprised that we as a church could come together like that.”

Moe Stiles (second from right) and her group with Member for Aston, Mary Doyle (second from left)

Miss Luzuk reflected that her group ruminated and prayed over Luke 12:11-12 before the day started, asking the Holy Spirit to be with them and to give them the words to say as is promised in those verses. As the day progressed, they discovered that other groups had also been praying over the same verse.

“We really prayed on that verse, and to hear that other delegation groups were also praying in this way was really affirming,” she says.

Charlene Luzuk (far right) meeting with Senator David Shoebridge

For Pastor Stiles, the other impactful component of the meetings in Canberra was being surrounded by strong, godly women.

“It was inspiring to be surrounded by incredible women of faith who are leaders in their respective roles,” Pastor Stiles says. “To have a delegation of 45 Christian women leaders stomping the halls of parliament isn’t something you would see every day.”

Miss Luzuk was grateful to be part of the community of women leaders who stood unified in their purpose as Christians to speak up for those who are marginalised.

“This isn’t new for Christians,” says Miss Luzuk. “For over 2,000 years, Jesus has instructed us to speak up on behalf of the poor and vulnerable, and so we’re just doing what Jesus has told us to do. If I speak up with one voice, it can only go so far, but when you have 45 voices from across the country all saying the same thing to the MPs and parliamentarians it has a bigger impact.

“I went to Canberra with quite a few questions on how effective it would be, and I walked away seeing the importance of combining our Christian voice and working together for the most vulnerable in our world.”