Chapel Speaker an Outspoken Advocate for Justice
By Doug Carroll
You wouldn’t expect a church in suburban Chandler to be leading the charge for social justice. In the land of SUVs, strip malls and youth soccer games, who has time for that?
Well, Palmer Chinchen does, and he has given his ministry over to it. As lead pastor of The Grove church, he took more than 100 parishioners with him to Africa in the summer of 2010.
He has authored two call-to-action books, “True Religion” and “God Can’t Sleep,” and he even wrote an online column last summer ripping Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s plans to assign a chain gang to work outside Chase Field during baseball’s All-Star Game.
“It’s time to speak up,” Chinchen wrote. “Like the prophets of the Old Testament, you and I are called to be a voice for the silenced — yes, even the ones in chains.”
When he brings a message to Chapel on Monday in GCU Arena, don’t expect him to dance around concerns that he says the evangelical church “has historically been deaf to.”
College students “get the Bible’s call to respond to injustice,” says Chinchen, who grew up in Liberia, West Africa. His father built three Christian universities in Africa, and Palmer has witnessed the ravages of AIDS and malaria up close. Civil war and extreme poverty have been part of daily life in that region.
As a business major at Biola University in southern California, Chinchen never thought he’d become a pastor or return to Africa on mission trips with college students from California and Illinois. He also has been to Central America and Cuba with such groups.
“God said, ‘I have more for you,’” he says. “When we start to give our lives away, God works something transformational in us. I saw that happen with the students I took places.
“You experience God in a new way, a deeper and more biblical way. In even the smallest injustices, God can use us.”
Injustice should trouble Christians, Chinchen says, because it deeply troubled the one they profess to follow.
“Jesus was bothered by what was not right in this world,” he says, “When you see something that’s really messed up in this world, you have to do something. Don’t sleep.”
For more about Chinchen’s ministry, go to www.palmerchinchen.com.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.