Interview With Kristen Granger
Perspective on Social Justice
Kristen Granger is a high school senior and a member of Bethel International’s Social Justice Team. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 13, has undergone 20 surgeries, and nearly died. She faces further medical procedures, but is resilient and full of faith. I asked her to share her perspective on social justice.
Q: Kristen, would you reflect on how your experience with serious illness has shaped you spiritually?
A: I feel like my experience made my relationship with God a lot stronger. When you go through something so hard like that and you have almost no control over the situation--trust is all you have. I had a hard time fully trusting my doctors because they made huge mistakes multiple times, so I completely turned to God. I trusted that one way or another he would get me through that and I would be healthy again. And it worked because I am healthy now, I have better doctors, and my relationship with God is as strong as ever.
Q: You have expressed a calling to social justice and a willingness to take a stand. What draws you to social justice?
A: As Christians we say that we love Jesus and we try our best to be like him, and I feel like that is exactly what social justice work is. Jesus dedicated his life to helping the poor, creating change, and spreading love, and that is all I am trying to do.
Q: Why do you think it’s necessary for the church to support racial justice and equal rights for LGBTQ persons?
A: One of the simplest lessons that we teach kids in Sunday school is to stand up to the bully, or else they are just as bad as the bully. If we sit back and watch as our society hurts people and takes away their rights, then we are no better than the bully. We have to actively advocate for equal rights and racial justice or else nothing is going to change.
Q: Do you believe that a church speaking out for social justice is important to young people in particular?
A: I think it is really important that the church takes a stand for social justice because if we don’t we are going to miss out on spreading God’s word to a lot of young people. I personally know a handful of people who have left the church because of the amount of hate that is present within it. If we all just accepted and loved one another and actually advocated for change, a lot of people would come back to the church and their faith.
Q: The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is embraced by a majority of people in the US, yet remains controversial. Why do you support the Black Lives Matter movement?
A: The Black community needs our help the most right now, so the attention is being drawn to them. The best analogy that I have heard is about a broken bone. If you break your leg and go to the doctor, the doctor is not going to tell you, “All bones matter--why do you have to draw attention to just this one?” The doctor would say, “Your leg is broken so let’s focus on it and get it the help it needs to heal and be healthy again.” The Black community has been broken and we need to help them so they can heal and have equal rights, and the best way to do that is to support BLM.
Q: You once said, “The job of leaders is not to keep people comfortable. I don’t care if people are comfortable; I care about overturning racism.” How might people’s discomfort lead to change?
A: We have become so comfortable in our ways that it doesn’t even phase a lot of us when a Black person is killed anymore, and that is not okay. I believe that if you are not uncomfortable then you are not facing the truth about what is happening in our country. We need to face the facts, be a little bit uncomfortable, and make real change.
Q: Thank you, Kristen. Will you offer a prayer for us?
A: Heavenly Father, please be with us during these challenging times. Please open people’s hearts and minds to understand that we need to love one another and work together to get equal rights for everyone. Allow us to come together to make real change and help those in need. Be with those who are struggling, those who have been affected by police brutality, and those who have faced hate for simply being themselves. Amen