Gary Haugen, the president and CEO of International Justice Mission (http://www.ijm.org/), senses a restlessness among American Christians. We appear to be dissatisfied with the safety of our routine suburban Christianity in which we pray, read the Bible, attend worship services, and perform small acts of kindness for our neighbors. While none of that is bad and each of those activities is necessary to be fulfilled, we know something vital is missing in such a life.
In his new book, Just Courage, Mr. Haugen argues that many Christians are missing out on the risks and adventure of pursuing justice for the poor. Throughout the world, the poor are suffering from injustice. Little girls in southeast Asia are being kidnapped and enslaved in brothels by adults who will profit from their continual raping by violent men. Widows in Africa are being forced from their homes and property by bullies who would have never had the guts to take on their deceased husbands. Men, women, and children in India are being deceived into slavery and brutally beaten and mutilated so that they remain enslaved.
"The sin of injustice," Mr. Haugen writes, "is defined in the Bible as the abuse of power--abusing power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life, liberty, dignity, or the fruits of their love or their labor" (p. 46). He goes on to argue that Christians need to stand up against violent perpetrators of injustice. Feeding the hungry and providing medical care for the poor are good deeds, but sometimes the world's poor need something more: they need to be rescued from their oppressors, and they need men and women who will risk personal harm to stand between them and their oppressors. They need courageous Christians who will love and protect them.
In the last chapter, Gary Haugen writes, "There are two things that are always the will of God and almost always dangerous: telling the truth and loving needy people...Doing what Jesus does--telling the truth and loving needy people--is inherently unsafe in a fallen world of lies and selfishness...It's not safe to love people in need...It's messy, untidy, unsafe, and even dangerous. And yet, paradoxically, Jesus tells us this is where the deepest joy is found"(pp. 115-116).
Just Courage is a small book with a powerful message. If you are bored with your Christianity, this could be the book for you. You just might be inspired to join International Justice Mission in its efforts to rescue slaves and prosecute oppressors. You might be inspired to serve the poor in some other way. You will be challenged to have the love and courage to
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow" (Isaiah 1:17, NIV).