Friday, July 23, 2010

A Call to Seek Justice

The last week of June I was on a plane headed for Columbus, Ohio. I was accompanied by about twenty teenagers and several other youth leaders. We were on our way to Challenge, a Christian youth conference. There were speakers, bands, seminars, and all kinds of things to help students engage with God. But the students weren't the only ones impacted.

Before I left for Challenge, I posted that sketch about sex slavery. It is an issue a care very deeply about, and have cared about for about four years now. For a long time though, I was merely saddened by this injustice and mourned any story having to do with sexual abuse, but I didn't do anything beyond feeling sad. I've always wanted to do something, but never really knew what or how. In this culture, it is a common attitude that there is nothing we can do to bring justice to the oppressed. It's too big! Or, one person can't make a difference. I'm an artist. What do I possibly have to offer to a cause like that? The other reaction we have, when we realized we can't do anything, is to shut out the cry of suffering all together so that we can live in our comfortable, little American bubbles without the inconvenience of sorrow.

Well, at Challenge, I was reminded of the sorrow, and moved to do something more than just sit around thinking about how awful it all is. And I thought, I'm an artist. What can I DO? For the first time, this question was not some impenetrable fortress to disappointedly turn away from, defeated. Rather, it was now a matter of brainstorming the possibilities, and asking God to show me how he wants me to use what he has given me. While we all have different gifts, we all have the same major calling to do God's will. It's how we use those gifts to fulfill that call that matters. Psalm 82:3-4 says, "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." How an artist does this will be different from how a lawyer does it, but the goal is the same. Neither is more or less important than the other.

So, since we got back from Challenge, I've been reading this book in the hopes of better understanding what injustice is all about, and what God thinks about it. Gary A Haugen is the founder of the human rights agency, International Justice Mission, which is completely dedicated to the cause of bringing relief to the oppressed and the oppressors to justice. I am a big supporter of the work they do.

As I'm learning more about this issue of injustice, I am realizing the potential of individual people to step up and do what's right in the face of uncertainty or opposition. I am also learning about God's hatred for injustice, and why he so urgently tells us to stand up for his children who cannot stand at all. He loves and weeps for his children, and despises the evils that hurt his children. This is where I want my heart to be.

And the question I have to ask myself, because I can't speak for anyone else, is "What am I going to do about it?" That is what I am processing recently. I've been reading Gary Haugen's book, been reading the Bible, and deeply considering the possibilities of what I can do to take part in God's cause of bringing justice to those who need it.

I will hopefully be blogging more in the midst of all this thinking, and all of life's happenings.

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