Get involved with the Center for Justice & Reconciliation and help us advance our call to help the most vulnerable in our communities and the world!
On Saturday, October 7, 2017, the CJR will hold its second annual Hope Rising luncheon to benefit its anti-human trafficking initiatives. In our beautiful city of San Diego and the surrounding communities, there is an ugly truth: our region is identified by the FBI as a hotspot for human trafficking. But we are doing something about it! There is a groundswell of collaborative effort, from the highest levels of law enforcement to the agencies that rescue and support survivors, and the CJR is right in the middle. At the 2016 Hope Rising luncheon, we honored five community leaders for their efforts to end human trafficking in our region with the inaugural Hope Rising Award: Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego County District Attorney; Armand King of Paving Great Futures; David Merk of Journey Community Church; Jamie Quient of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch; and Andrea Thrower of the San Diego Unified School District.
The CJR Alumni Core Network is an initiative to forge connections and partnerships that benefit PLNU alumni and the work of the CJR. Our passion to reach the least of these and to be the hands and feet of Christ in our communities drives our purpose.
Michael Mata: Community Transformation as a Life Calling
In a world often focused on upward mobility, PLNU alum Michael Mata has spent his life focused on downward mobility. In the process, he’s had the opportunity to see communities transformed. It’s nearly impossible to list all of his accomplishments, the positions he’s held, the Boards he’s led, and the agencies where he’s provided consultation. For over 30 years Mata has crafted coalitions and led community development efforts that have changed the face of many neighborhoods.
Mata currently directs the Transformational Urban Leadership program at Azusa Pacific University, where students are prepared to work on the margins of society. Always striving to leverage his connections to support community development, he’s frequently sought after to consult with community and faith-based organizations.
Mata also serves as a consultant to the Rand Corporation on their health disparities project in Los Angeles. There he helps guide research in best practices which urban churches can adopt to ensure healthy living. He also facilitates a community coalition in South Los Angeles bringing urban congregations together to explore the role of faith organizations in stemming the tide of sexually transmitted diseases among 12-24 year old youth of color.
His skills and expertise garner great recognition in the community, and he serves on community boards and commissions dealing with health and justice issues, trains and speaks around the nation, leads research projects, and teaches at universities and seminaries. Through it all, Mata’s purpose is not on creating the next best “program”, but instead facilitating transformation so that not just those who touch a program are helped, but an entire community is changed.
Mata reflects on a project many years ago when he served as Urban Projects Coordinator at Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene. “We were working with youth to keep them in school, reduce pregnancies, and introduce them to God. Many of these youth knew how to get money, but there was no way for them to get jobs,” says Mata. The community perception was that these high-risk youth were not employable – that they did not have the skills, background or sense of responsibility to be good employees.
“More often than not what happens is we create a program to deal with a problem – but then the program becomes an organization – and that organizations can never fully address the issue,” Mata continues.
“So, our strategy was to create a demonstration program to show the community that these young people were actually employable – to show the community they were viable employees.” And it worked. Now, twenty years later, young people in that same community fill the labor pool for local businesses.
“The young people living in that neighborhood today don’t know about what we did 20 years ago, but they are directly benefitting from it,” says Mata. “Too often we create programs out of good intentions that are trying to fix something, not transform it. I believe young people are capable of bringing about change.
If you are interested in being a part of the CJR Alumni Core Network, please fill out this short informational survey.
Roots of Giving
In our age of consumerism, it’s easy to forget the supply chains behind the gifts we give at Christmas. The annual student-led Roots of Giving Fair brings artisans, farmers, immigrant businesses, and other community members together on the PLNU campus to sell their fair trade and justly created goods.
Internships @ CJR
Want to put your passion for justice and reconciliation to work? We are always looking for enthusiastic and talented interns to join our efforts! As an intern, you will be a leader of the student movement on campus and have the opportunity to create a vision for how students get involved with the CJR. You’ll plan special events, mobilize your fellow students, and represent PLNU in the community through outreach efforts and working with direct service agencies. This is a unique opportunity to make a difference in your community while networking and building relationships for the future.
Witness firsthand the contrasts between how U.S. Border Patrol protects the border and how families have been separated by immigration laws. You will meet migrants who have been deported while trying to enter the U.S. and tour the red light district of Tijuana. This trip will push you to grapple with complex issues.
At our monthly Brewed Awakening, you can enjoy fair trade coffee, tea, and intriguing speakers who will stir your social conscience. Each speaker highlights a different issue that aligns with the focus areas of the CJR, and has the potential to shift your perspective and ignite a passion for justice you may not have even known you had. Over a dozen faculty regularly make Brewed Awakening a part of their courses, and PLNU alumni named the series as one of their favorite college memories.
Our annual HT-RADAR conference is an opportunity to learn, discuss, and share the latest human trafficking research while networking with local and national experts. For more information on the work of HT-RADAR and the annual conference, visit the HT-RADAR website.