Julia Doxat-Purser knows there is a limit to what Christians can achieve in politics. “If every parliamentarian were a Christian – would unemployment be solved? Would we know what to do with Islamic state? No – the world is fallen, and there are problems and tragedies,” she says.
Yet as the socio-political representative for the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA), Julia says it is vital for Christians to engage in the public arena. And she is excited to be planning the 2nd Cross-Current group helping young graduates working in politics across Europe to live out their faith in their daily life. “Politics is about what will be encouraged and discouraged in society – we need a Biblical perspective on that, and we need to learn how to walk with God and honour Him as we seek to be His ambassadors” she said.
The first Cross-Current politics group met 2014-2017, with some participants involved in party politics but others include civil servants, campaigners, members of think-tanks, NGOs and the UN. Julia is co-leading the 2nd course with Christel Ngnambi, former Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance, now completing his doctorate and working for Norwegian think tank Skaperkraft.
The new group will meet six times over the next three years, with members keeping a personal journal in between meetings. “Our vision is for it to be like a church home group for young people in politics,” says Julia. “We will look at some theory but in the end it’s about really looking into the Bible and understanding how we honour Christ through walking with him in political life.”
Julia says there are various challenges facing young Christians in politics. Christian politicians need to learn how to win elections, convince people of policies, present well in the media – and yet still be able to give the glory for all that to God. So one of Julia’s priorities for the Cross Current course is to examine Biblical material on how to handle power. “The temptations of ambition and power are the same as in many other careers,” she says. “A stronger challenge in politics is how we give the glory to God rather than keeping it for ourselves, because in politics one is often obliged to look good in order to win.”
Other challenges for people in the political sphere include loving your enemies when politics can be vicious, and trusting God with your future, rather than striving and grasping as many others do. In Berlin the first group met with a German evangelical parliamentarian who spoke about the freedom his faith gives him. He was a social worker who never intended to go into politics but trusts that he is there because God opened the door and will stay as long as God wants him to be there. That gives him the freedom to be himself, to speak the truth, and allow God to promote him or not.
“We are proud of the Christians who were in our first Cross Current politics group because they also grew in this sense of freedom,” says Julia. “They are not trying to manoeuvre themselves the whole time. They are not in their positions for the power, the reputation or the money. They are there to serve God in the work they are doing, the influence they have and in how they treat the people around them in loving their colleagues, in being different – in being salt and light.
Julia and Christel’s prayer for new Cross Current politics group members is that they will enjoy a similar sense of liberation. “It would be wonderful if God honours Cross Currenters because He can trust them with power,” Julia says. “But I want them to feel free and to have joy and contentment in knowing their identity is in Christ. Whether they succeed in how the world sees success doesn’t matter - that’s for God.”