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IS JUSTICE ENOUGH? EXPLO RI N G T H E T E N S ION B ETW EEN S O CI A L ACTI O N A N D EVA N G EL I SM
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ONEHOPE The reality children are facing around the world today is devastating. But what would the world look like if every child, every emerging adult, could encounter God’s truth? That’s the vision that international ministry OneHope is committed to turning into a reality as they seek to reach every child with the Word of God by 2030. Collaborating with local governments, church2
es, schools and other NGOs, OneHope uses innovative Scripture engagement tools to tailor the Gospel presentation to each child’s age and needs. So far, OneHope has reached over 857 million young people in more than 125 countries with the Gospel message. This task is huge. Yet to affect destiny, the next generation of the world needs God’s Word.
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A MISSION DIVERGED BY STEPHANIE SMITH
reach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” This phrase has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi as often as its original source is debated. Regardless who said the words, the idea behind them comprises the missional vision of many Christians today. It has become a modern motivator for those taking a stand to fight the social injustices of the world—and rightly so. But this mantra also betrays a tension that has long troubled Christians as they seek to live out God’s mission in a hurting world. Is the communication of the Gospel native to words or action? If evangelism and social justice are equal parts of our Christian responsibility, why does it often feel like they’re at odds? Why do we talk about them as separate tasks? And in a world of overwhelming human need, is it better to hand out free rice bowls or Bibles? These are the questions we’ve asked ourselves as we put together this issue of Reject Apathy. For the past few years, we’ve dedicated the magazine to exposing five realms of global injustice: loss of innocents, creation care, preventable disease, poverty and violence. But woven through all of these issues is the hope that those affected by these injustices will come to know the One who is able to save both the body and the soul. There can be no doubt about it—the world is in desperate physical and spiritual need. Evangelism and social action stand ready to do something about it. But first, to be fully equipped for the work at hand, we must understand where the two meet.
Be sure to check out RejectApathy.com! It’s continually updated with new articles, spotlights on innovative organizations and ways you can get involved locally and globally to make a difference.
SLICES WORLD AIDS DAY: GEARING UP TO FINISH THE WORK Y ou expect to see a burst of Christmas colors in December. But on December 1, things will be red for a different reason. That’s because this day has been designated World AIDS Day—a day for those in the global fight against this pandemic to join together and celebrate the progress being made, while rolling up their sleeves to finish the job. As inaugurated by UNAIDS, the theme for World AIDS Day from 2011-2015 is “Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDSrelated deaths.” Many efforts to accomplish this goal are already in place, including UNAIDS’ strategic distribution of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and other treatment options that have achieved virtual elimination of new infections in pilot regions. Here’s a look at how the AIDS pandemic has evolved in recent history (see timeline at right). It’s a daunting fact that 34 million people today are living with HIV/ AIDS. But perhaps a better understanding of how we’ve gotten here can also help us bring the number back down—all the way down, to zero. * Timeline information gathered from data provided by www.avert.org and www.aids.gov.
1884–1924 HIV VIRUS LIKELY TRANSFERS TO AFRICA.
1994 AZT REDUCES INFANT HIV INFECTIONS.
1981 AIDS IS DETECTED IN CALIFORNIA AND NEW YORK.
1999 HIV/AIDS IS FOURTH HIGHEST CAUSE OF DEATH WORLDWIDE.
1985 AIDS HAS BEEN REPORTED IN EVERY REGION OF THE WORLD.
2004 U.S. STARTS PEPFAR TO COMBAT AIDS GLOBALLY.
1987 AZT IS THE FIRST DRUG APPROVED FOR TREATING AIDS.
2009 NEW HIV INFECTIONS DECLINE BY 17 PERCENT.
ar outside the urban sprawl, a new kind of American poverty is taking root and growing like a weed. In the past 10 years, the face of poverty has spread from the homeless on the corner of a metropolis street to rural regions beyond the suburbs and shopping malls. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reported this year that the rate of rural Americans living in poverty—15 percent—is higher than the national average of 13 percent.
HOW POVERTY IS MEASURED
The most deeply affected area stretches in a northeast arc from Texas to West Virginia, but the problem extends throughout the U.S. Only five states can claim less than 10 percent of its inhabitants live below the poverty line. For the rest of the country, the recession surprisingly hit hardest in the farmlands, manufacturing epicenters and service industries, which are still struggling today to recover from its impact.
POVERTY STATUS IS DETERMINED BY COMPARING ANNUAL INCOME TO A SET OF DOLLAR VALUES, CALLED POVERTY THRESHOLDS, THAT VARY BY FAMILY SIZE, NUMBER OF CHILDREN AND AGE OF HOUSEHOLDER.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO RURAL POVERTY EMPLOYMENT
WITH GREATER RELIANCE ON MANUFACTURING, SERVICE AND FARMING, THE JOB MARKET IN RURAL AREAS TENDS TO BE LESS DIVERSE, MORE UNSTABLE AND LESS LUCRATIVE THAN THAT OF METROPOLITAN AREAS.
ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE REPORTS THAT AS OF 2001, MORE THAN 26 PERCENT OF METROPOLITAN RESIDENTS POSSESS AT LEAST A COLLEGE DEGREE, COMPARED TO 15 PERCENT IN NON-METROPOLITAN AREAS.
GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
ccording to a new study from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, one in four American adults owns an e-reader or tablet today. As people increasingly gravitate toward digital ink, many in the environmental sector are watching and waiting to see how this trend will influence paper production and deforestation activities native to the publishing industry. The advent of e-readers is still relatively new and everevolving, so the validity of the argument regarding the environmental virtues of e-reading stands—for now—yet untested. The question remains: Are e-readers better for the environment? To answer this question, two sides of the equation must be considered: deforestation and carbon emissions. BOTH SIDES OF THE INDUSTRY AGREE: FOR THOSE LOOKING TO LEAVE A ZERO CARBON FOOTPRINT AND SAVE A FEW BUCKS, THE GREENEST OPTION OF ALL IS TO CHECK OUT A LIBRARY BOOK. 6
DEFORESTATION According to the New York Times, the newspaper and publishing industries in the U.S. cut down 125 million trees in 2008. If e-readers were to continue their upward trend in popularity, that number has the potential to drastically decline.
CARBON EMISSIONS The tech industry may not chop down many trees, but according to publishing veteran Nick Moran, one year of e-reading accounts for a carbon footprint five times greater than that of a year’s worth of print books.
SO, WHAT ’S THE BEST OPTION? It depends on how much you read. The carbon-emissionoffset organization Terapass reports that the carbon footprint of an e-reader equals about 23 books. So, if you read more than 23 books per year, e-reading is greener. If you read less, go for print.
tend to think of prostitution as a desperate circumstance—a single mother driven to her last resort or a young girl forced into a brothel. But among Japan’s young adults, this is not necessarily the case. Award-winning filmmaker Brent Ryan Green took his crew to Tokyo to film Paper Flower to expose the disturbing—and growing—trend in which Japanese schoolgirls volunteer sexual favors to older men in exchange for high-fashion designer items. Known as enjokosai, which translates “compensated dating,” it’s actually a modern form of prostitution. We asked Green to talk to us about the reality of this issue behind the scenes.
WHAT IS “COMPENSATED DATING”?
WHAT SURPRISED YOU IN RESEARCHING THIS PRACTICE?
HOW IS THE FILM SUPPORTING A SOLUTION FOR THIS ISSUE?
WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FILM AND FAITH FOR YOU?
It’s a new trend in Tokyo driven by materialism. Many of the participants are middleclass girls who are not engaging in this sort of activity to get by or afford food but to supplement their income and keep up with the latest fashions.
The frequency of these transactions. Ten percent of girls in Japan have been approached for enjo-kosai. Also, Japanese men face a lot of pressure to provide the latest fashions, which has led to longer working hours, a high suicide rate and the breakdown of the family.
We hope it engages girls emotionally to help them see beauty comes from within. Schools are using it to educate and open discussion, with the hope of rehumanizing sexual intimacy and affirming that being viewed as a sex object is unacceptable.
For me, there is no difference. They are both a part of me, with no distinction between the two.
espite playing such a pivotal role in the counterterrorism strategy of the U.S., there’s a surprising lack of public information about drones—pilotless military aircrafts that are controlled autonomously by computers or remote pilots. President George W. Bush began using the unmanned aircrafts in 2004, in situations where sending a pilot was too risky—largely in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where many al-Qaida operatives live. Under the Obama administration, the practice has more than doubled, spreading to Somalia and Yemen and calling into question both the legality and ethics of using such machines. What makes this war tactic even more controversial is that U.S. officials rarely mention civilian casualties as a result of drone strikes. When they do, independent reports indicate those numbers to be highly underreported. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, from June 2004 to mid-October 2012, available data indicates that drone strikes killed between 2,577 and 3,346 people in Pakistan alone. Of these victims, between 474 and 884 were civilians—including 176 children. Even for survivors, the emotional trauma of a drone’s presence is long-lasting. Each aircraft can hover in a static post for up to 17 hours, giving remote troops real-time feedback and data as well as the ability to follow or attack suspected insurgents. With drones often within eyesight for days at a time, many civilians live in constant fear. While the government is quick to tout the benefits of drone weapons, civilian experience tells another story.
“Drones are always on my mind. It makes it difficult to sleep. They are like a mosquito. Even when you don’t see them, you can hear them. You know they are there.” —Mohammad Kausar (anonymized name), as quoted in the Stanford/ NYU “Living Under Drones” report
“Drones are becoming synonymous with U.S. counterterrorism strategy. But unlike in regular wars, policymakers are failing to ask the hard questions here, including whether other tactics or strategies are more appropriate than drone strikes and whether U.S. expansion of drone operations is causing more harm than good.” —Sarah Holewinski, executive director of Center for Civilians in Conflict
SLAVERY: THEN AND NOW
IT’S BEEN 150 YEARS SINCE SIGNING OF THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, BUT THE FIGHT AGAINST SLAVERY CONTINUES.
January 1, 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was launched into effect, providing that “all persons held as slaves within any State ... shall be then, thence forward, and forever free.” But on the 150th anniversary of this landmark move for human rights, there are more slaves than at any other time in human history—over 27 million throughout the world. Shackles and slave ships may be a thing of the past, but modern-day slavery is more widespread than ever and has never been more important to combat.
THEN IN 1860, LESS THAN 1/4 OF WHITE SOUTHERNERS OWNED SLAVES.
THEN SLAVERY’S MARKET VALUE JUST BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR WAS CLOSE TO $4 BILLION.
THEN THE AVERAGE PRICE OF A SLAVE IN 1809 IS TODAY’S EQUIVALENT OF $40,000.
THEN SLAVES ORIGINATED FROM WEST CENTRAL AFRICA MORE THAN ANY OTHER REGION IN THE 1800S.
THEN IN 1860, AN ESTIMATED 4 MILLION PEOPLE WERE ENSLAVED IN AMERICA.
NOW THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR HAS IDENTIFIED 122 SLAVEMADE PRODUCTS FOUND IN MOST AMERICAN HOMES.
NOW HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS A $32 BILLION INDUSTRY AND THE FASTEST-GROWING CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE IN THE 21ST CENTURY.
NOW THE AVERAGE PRICE OF A SLAVE TODAY IS $90.
NOW VICTIMS OF FORCED LABOR ARE TRAFFICKED INTO THE UNITED STATES FROM OVER 35 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.
NOW AN ESTIMATED 10,000 PEOPLE ARE ENSLAVED AT ANY GIVEN TIME IN AMERICA.
HOW MANY SLAVES ARE WORKING FOR YOU? TAKE THE SLAVERY FOOTPRINT SURVEY TO FIND OUT.
Every Wednesday, Amy joins a group that gives sandwiches and clothing to the homeless living in downtown Chicago, where she studies urban ministry. She writes letters to her congressmen, asking them to support the latest anti-trafficking legislation. She’s upset by the gentrification happening in her neighborhood. Amy’s faith in Christ motivates all these actions. Yet when she sees street evangelists preaching to the crowds on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, she finds their approach distasteful—although, when she stops to think about it, she can’t remember the last time she presented the Gospel to another person. Young Christians in the ’80s and ’90s may have worn WWJD bracelets, but today’s emerging generation of Christians—like Amy—are more likely to wear TOMS shoes. And it’s a telling portrait—as previous generations dedicated themselves to putting the Gospel into words, the current generation of believers put it into their walk, and it’s a walk marked by justice and social action. Across the country and around the world, this newer generation has caught a renewed vision for the Christian life as articulated by the prophet Micah—a life characterized by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly 12
with their God. The Barna Group recently noted the escalating interest in justice and community service as one of six “megathemes” rapidly changing the landscape of the Church in the United States. But the gravitation toward justice is not only evident in statistics. One only has to look as far as creative advocacy campaigns and the rise of short-term mission trips and holistic service projects to see its farreaching effects. It’s evident in the daily choices young Christians make, from buying fair-trade products to tweeting humanitarian news from the front lines.
This generation’s passion for justice is, without doubt, something to celebrate. It’s a breathtaking sign that the Spirit is at work, leading young men and women into lives marked by the reigning belief that all of life matters to God, not just the parts we might call “spiritual.” But in this sincere step toward activism, have other essential aspects of the Christian calling been neglected? As Christians respond to the cries of the oppressed, have they failed to share the life-giving message that is truly good news to the poor? Every generation is subject to a reactive pendulum that swings away from the perceived shortcomings of the generation that preceded it. As Christians today move away from the overt evangelistic nature of WWJD bracelets, altar calls and “Four Spiritual Laws” tracts, have they overcompensated and swung out of balance to the other side? If Christians are to bridge the artificial divide between evangelism and social action, they must immerse themselves in the Bible’s story of redemption. They must learn from those who have gone before them. And they must see the strength of the diversity of the Church—a company of uniquely called individuals in God’s cosmic mission. THE STORY OF REDEMPTION
The Bible, at its simplest, is the story of what God is doing in history to make all things new. If Christians are to understand the two-pronged part
AS CHRISTIANS ARE RESPONDING TO THE CRIES OF THE OPPRESSED, HAVE THEY FAILED TO SHARE THE LIFE-GIVING MESSAGE THAT IS TRULY GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR?
they’re called to play in seeking justice and sharing the good news of Christ, their first step will be to find their place in that story. In the beginning of creation, there was no cause for justice because there was nothing imperfect to correct. Likewise, there was no cause for evangelism, because humanity knew its Creator and walked with Him. But Adam and Eve’s choice to eat from the one forbidden tree upturned both of these perfect realities. The entrance of sin into the world changed everything—including God’s calling for His people. In a perfect Eden, humanity’s only responsibility was to worship God and care for His creation. But in a fallen world, the task would require righting what went wrong. Humankind would have to take up a new charge: social justice, to reconcile the wrongs humans committed against each other; and evangelism, to repair the rift between humanity and its Creator. The ultimate act of reconciliation, of course, culminated many generations later in Jesus Christ, whose life, death and resurrection would save His created ones from their sins. Yet the purpose of Christ’s mission goes beyond the forgiveness of isolated individuals. The corruption is widespread in human hearts and social crimes alike—and Jesus is making all things new. The biblical story that began in the garden ends as the city of God descends to earth from heaven, with a voice declaring, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4, ESV). In the Bible’s redemption story, God is unmistakably the main character. But He chooses to use His redeemed people as His ambassadors. They are called to take up His mission of reconciling humanity with God, each other and all of creation. Seen through this redemptive lens, it becomes
clear that evangelism and social action are both essential and inseparable aspects of the mission of the Church. But what does this look like in real life? How can Christians prioritize both without neglecting either? Fortunately, this generation is not the first to wrestle with these questions. The modern Church stands on the shoulders of men and women who have sought to be faithful to Christ in all aspects of His mission. Their stories may not be known to some, but they have much to teach Christians living in the tension between word and action today. THE SHOULDERS THE CHURCH STANDS ON
Evangelism and social action weren’t always seen as a matter of either/or. Beginning with the early Church, Christian mission commonly included both Gospel truth and just action. The book of Acts provides a glimpse of the generous lifestyle of believers who “were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45). As a result of their social concern, the numbers of those being saved increased daily. In his classic book The Rise of Christianity, sociologist Rodney Stark argues that this sacrificial and countercultural love is one of the key reasons for the explosive growth of the Church in the Roman Empire. Before the
advances of modern medicine, plagues killed millions at a time. Those who could afford it fled the cities to avoid becoming victims. Yet Christians stayed put to care for the sick, in recognition of God’s call to social responsibility. Then, in the missions resurgence of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Western missionaries committed their lives in Africa, Asia and Latin America to make Christ known. They also established schools, orphanages and hospitals that drastically improved the quality of life for those living in the communities they served. Unfortunately, some of these missionary efforts were tainted by the colonialism of their home countries. The resulting exploitation and abuse is cause for serious repentance. Yet some positive examples stand out. William Carey, for instance— considered by many to be the “father of modern missions”—was a British missionary to India in the late 1700s and early 1800s who demonstrated a lifelong commitment to both Gospel proclamation and social justice. In addition to his extensive work in Bible translation, Carey was a voice of opposition against Britain’s slave trade. In addition, he advocated against India’s inhumane religious practices—child sacrifice, burning widows to death and mistreating lepers. While missionaries with this holistic approach have continued to serve in far-flung corners of the world, an unfortunate rift occurred in the American Church beginning in the 1920s. Christians created a fault line and took sides—some advocating the “social Gospel,”
GOD’S MISSION HAS NEVER BEEN ONE-DIMENSIONAL BUT RATHER MULTIFACETED—FLOWING THE FULL RANGE BETWEEN WORDS AND ACTION, EVANGELISM AND JUSTICE, TRUTH AND SERVICE.
with its civic and political implications, and others holding fast to the “fundamentals” of faith, with its emphasis on personal sin and salvation. While both camps could provide biblical support for their stance, both lacked essential aspects of the Church’s mission in their reactionary defense. This rift remained for decades, with deepseated suspicion on both sides preventing any real effort to find common ground, much less recover a truly holistic understanding of God’s mission. A watershed moment for evangelicals came in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where more than 2,500 pastors and leaders from 150 countries gathered for a conference on world evangelization. Time magazine called it “possibly the widest ranging meeting of Christians ever held.” The 10-day gathering culminated in a drafting of the Lausanne Covenant, outlining a distinctly evangelical theology for mission. Within the 15-point statement, a section on Christian social responsibility confessed the Church had wrongfully considered evangelism and social action “mutually exclusive.” Yet the diverse range of attendees agreed: “Both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ.” Latin American theologians René Padilla and Samuel Escobar were instrumental in prompting this return to holistic missiology. At the time of the Lausanne gathering, Latin America was at war with itself. Dictatorships and death squads were attempting to stifle revolutionary movements throughout South America by launching scorched-earth campaigns that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians. In response, some Catholic theologians began advocating for liberation theology, which gave a voice to the oppressed and offered a theological basis for resisting unjust authorities. Many evangelical leaders in
Latin America were attracted to this ideology, yet they disagreed with the liberation theologians, who pointed to Marxism as the answer and violent revolution as the means. As a counterbalance, a group of evangelical theologians developed misión integral, or “integral mission,” which Padilla defined as “a view that regards being, doing and saying as inseparable dimensions of the witness to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” Padilla hoped this concept would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the Church’s mission, as it affirms the need for sinners to be reconciled to God through Christ, as well as the fact that once an individual has been reconciled, he or she is commissioned as an agent of reconciliation in a hurting world. Though the term originated in the 1970s in Latin America, “integral mission” has since spread to different parts of the world, where it is known as “holistic mission” or “transformational development.” And this movement is still alive today. In the Micah Network, more than 500 organizations from 80 countries share the commitment to integral mission. In 2001, members of the network drafted a declaration in which they agreed evangelism and social action were more than just compatible with each other. “Our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life,” it states. “And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.” REJECTAPATHY.COM
Though many evangelicals in the U.S. haven’t heard of these theologians, missionaries and activists, they owe these men and women a debt of gratitude. These Christians of the past provide believers today with powerful theological language to navigate a divide that was never meant to exist in the first place. THE DIVERSE COMMUNITY
To repair such a rift requires a joint effort. God has not called His people to seek justice or do evangelism in a vacuum. He has called them to participate in His holistic mission where they are, in a particular time and place. And through His provision of the local Church, He has ensured they won’t navigate this pursuit alone. If this generation’s passion for justice is to be sustained, Christians need to link arms—and learn from— brothers and sisters in Christ who lean alternately toward social action and evangelism. Instead of advocating a homogenous community, Christians ought to feel comfortable making the most of their shared strengths in their diversity of age, race, nationality, giftedness, personality and calling. In his first letter to the believers in Corinth, for example, Paul described the Church as one body with many parts. Each part of the body, he said, has been given different kinds of gifts, all for the purpose of glorifying God and serving the common good. If Christians surround themselves with those who are just like them— viewing those with other callings as inferior—they will miss out on the blessing that the diverse body of Christ really is. And if they fail to 16
work together, they risk missing their calling as a vibrant Church that bears witness in word and deed to the good news of Jesus making all things new. MOVING FORWARD
God’s mission has never been one-dimensional but rather multifaceted—flowing the full range between words and action, evangelism and justice, truth and service. Scripture teaches it, history confirms it and the body of Christ requires it to carry out its mission effectively. Yet the tension between justice and evangelism needs to be navigated by every generation. So, what can one learn from Christian leaders who are pursuing this holistic mission now? David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, emphasizes the wisdom of cultivating one’s specific area of calling. He encourages Christians to distinguish between the “macro calling” of the Church as a whole and the various “micro callings” to which individuals ought to respond in a particular place for an
extended period of time. While it is good to be aware of a broad range of issues impacting our world, Kinnaman says, “We are not called to respond to every issue that comes to us on Facebook.” Ken Wytsma, pastor of Antioch Church in Bend,
Ore., and founder of the Justice Conference, says justice is more than a mere issue or cause. “Justice makes demands of us in every aspect of our daily existence,” Wytsma says. “It’s something too big for any of us to live up to, which is why we need grace. Grace is what keeps us from falling flat.” Neither is justice something Christians can assume they understand fully right away. Instead, Wytsma says, God’s people need to grow into justice through patterns of learning and serving through the long run. “We need to make it a lifelong journey,” he counsels. Diandra Hoskins of OneHope knows the importance of such a lifelong commitment. Hoskins helps bring Scripture resources to children and youth around the world while believing Western Christians should work to bring the same basic rights and material blessings they enjoy to their less fortunate global neighbors. Her work has shown that not all human needs can be seen or measured in quite the same way. “It is easy to see the impact of three wells being dug,” Hoskins says, “but it is much more difficult to measure the [immediate] impact of the Gospel in someone’s life.” Still, Hoskins believes it is unloving to withhold the good news from others—no matter how long it might take to see fruit. “We need to remember what Christ has done for us,” she says, “and then extend the opportunity for that kind of transformation to others.” Missio Nexus president Steve Moore already sees young Christians moving in the right direction. From the vantage point of what is now the largest evangelical mission network in North America, Moore observes, “Next generation workers don’t see a separation between word and deed like their parents or grandparents did. They view mission much more holistically from the start.”
As a result, Moore sees a unique partnership emerging between traditional mission organizations and young, justice-oriented Christians—such as a project currently underway that combines the efforts of an organization that provides clean water and another dedicated to discipleship. This collaborative approach may be just what’s needed to mend the gap. The justice generation may still be the next generation. But soon there will be another next generation—and now is the time to set the trajectory for them in the right direction by returning to holistic mission. “When word and deed are meaningfully connected in proper perspective,” Moore says, “we’ll be in great shape to really address the pressing needs of our time.”
[ TAKE ACTION ]
3 WAYS TO INTEGRATE FAITH AND ACTION • READ GOOD NEWS AND GOOD WORKS: A THEOLOGY FOR THE WHOLE GOSPEL BY RON SIDER. • ASK A MENTOR OR ROLE MODEL HOW THEY SEE YOU AS UNIQUELY GIFTED TO USE YOUR ABILITIES IN GOD’S GLOBAL MISSION. • COMPLETE A TOPICAL BIBLE STUDY OF JUSTICE AND EVANGELISM.
TIM HØILAND is a writer, editor and connector for the common good. Born in Guatemala City, he now lives in Phoenix. Learn more at www.tjhoiland.com.
HOW THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC IS MAKING A COMEBACK.
BY CURT DEVINE
In January 2011, a group of the Central African Republic’s key leaders met in a bombstruck, crumbling government building to discuss restoring hope in the hearts of the nation’s youth. They knew their country was in a state of decay. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) had, at that point, suffered 11 mutinies and countless rebellions. The country is currently ranked seventh on the United Nations’ list of the poorest countries in the world. Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof has called it the most abused country in the world, due to the military and rebel groups who have raped, robbed and killed thousands throughout the capital city and countryside. One of the leaders in attendance at the January meeting, Jean-Serge Bokassa, grew up witnessing horrific
bloodshed at the hands of his father, the emperor of the CAR in the 1970s. Bokassa watched war, political corruption and even cannibalism destroy his family, friends and the entire country he called home. Today, Bokassa serves as a governmental minister for his wartorn nation. And as he seeks to turn a fresh page in his country’s history, he sets his hope fully on one thing: the Word of God. Dan Franklin, a liaison for the Florida-based international children’s ministry, OneHope, was also at that January meeting. As a 30-year-old American, he encountered the CAR from a different vantage point than Bokassa, but he saw the same bullet holes that scarred many of the buildings in the capital city of Bangui—and he also shared the same hope. As Bokassa, Franklin and the others in the meeting that day sat among the rubble of the nation’s violent legacy, the leaders of the country’s education, health and environment sectors all agreed: The CAR needed spiritual restoration more than anything else. “In that moment, I knew an amazing partnership had formed,” says Franklin. “These leaders shockingly agreed that Jesus is the hope of the world. But I knew a long road lay ahead.” REVERSING HOPELESSNESS
In many ways, the Central African Republic serves as a metaphor for Africa as a whole. The country has a rich supply of natural resources—diamonds, gold, oil and uranium—yet struggles with a stagnant economy. The average income hovers at about $2 per day. How does a country rich in natural resources become one of the poorest in the world? A paradox of this caliber could only be created internally—by systemic political corruption. After decades of witnessing their government embezzle finances and violate human rights, citizens in the CAR have come to expect the worst of those who have pledged to serve them. Societal injury has been so deep—and distrust so widespread—that OneHope president Rob Hoskins believes the nation needs more than another poverty alleviation program. “You can address the surface issues of the economy and government, but if you don’t change the beliefs and attitudes of people, then you’re going to see persistent, chronic problems,” Hoskins says. “We want to create new hearts and minds based on the Word of God.” REJECTAPATHY.COM
And what better way to shift a society’s belief system than to engage its future leaders? According to the Barna Group, nearly two-thirds of believers accept Christ during childhood and adolescence. In the CAR, just over 40 percent of the nation’s nearly 5 million people fall below the age of 14, creating a ripe opportunity to counter the nation’s scarred past by reaching its youth with the transformative good news of Christ. After the meeting of government leaders in early 2011, OneHope received the official green light to begin working in schools, neighborhoods and community centers throughout the country. The goal was simple: Share God’s Word with every child to undo the cycle of corruption in the
“WE CAN SEE THE HOPELESSNESS, BUT GOD IS OUR HOPE, AND A NATION THAT PUTS ITS HOPE IN GOD WILL BE BLESSED.” —THEODORE KAPOU, BISHOP OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH 20
nation’s youth. The method was straightforward too: Equip local churches to do the groundwork, in order to ensure that God’s Word takes root in each unique, local context. Still, the challenge remained. Undoing the effects of violence on a generation of disillusioned youth would take both creativity and time. REDEEMING THE PAST
Gordon Olson, founding director of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry, developed a similar vision for reaching the Central African Republic with God’s Word—but not before the nation’s legacy of violence affected him on a deeply personal level. In 1991, Olson’s 24-year-old son, Tim, traveled to the country with his girlfriend on a mission trip. As an aspiring architect, Tim was supervising the construction of a church in Bangui. While working on the project, he took a short trip to a game preserve in the northern part of the country. On his return from the preserve, a group of armed bandits accosted and murdered him. When the church’s construction was complete, Olson and his wife, Betty, traveled to the CAR to see the project for which their son had sacrificed his life. Local leaders named the church St. Timothy Lutheran Church in honor of the Olsons’ son, and Olson began to sense God’s calling to bring hope to the country’s oppressed people—especially when he realized he was not the only one who had lost a loved one in the war-ravaged country. “We had to walk a long journey of forgiveness,” Olson says. “As a result, we love the country and are committed to its people, through the good and the bad.” It wasn’t long before Olson’s personal journey overflowed into his work—and Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry began. The organization exists to transform communities from the ground up by equipping local churches and development programs with God’s Word. Rather than inserting corporate offices and
foreign objectives into the local soil, Lutheran Partners, like OneHope, works primarily through grassroots movements within the church. One of the ways the organization accomplishes its work is by making the Bible accessible to pastorsin-training in the country. Olson explains that many of these pastors enter seminary with an eighthor ninth-grade reading level and with torn and threadbare Bibles. When Lutheran Partners learned of this reality, it purchased hundreds of Bibles translated into the
local language—Sango—and launched literacy programs through local Lutheran churches. Of the youth rising to reshape the CAR’s future, only about half are young men—and so Lutheran Partners has also sought ways to empower young women. Because illiteracy rates are highest among women in the CAR’s male-dominated society, Olson encourages local pastors to promote women’s leadership, and he also designed a way for young women to be equipped for the task—Lutheran Partners built a compound to provide literacy and Bible classes for young women, and they offer a scholarship to top-scoring female students who want to continue their studies in Bangui. Though he once would have never expected it, Olson’s life today shares common threads with the narrative of the African country that claimed the final breath of his son. He has suffered great loss because of the country’s violence, as have so many who live there, yet
he has great hope God will continue to redeem the past while forging a brighter future—a brighter future that is rising even now. “Even though many people there live in the midst of poverty and hopelessness,” Olson says, “they embody the life of the Scriptures.” A CHANGE IN COURSE
While reaching the youth of a nation with Scripture might seem as simple as opening a book, the OneHope team started with something a little less conventional: basketball. Boasting the FIBA African Championship in 1974 against Senegal and in 1987 against Egypt, the Central African Republic once had a thriving basketball program. But years of civil war destroyed most of the country’s sports infrastructure, and many children who would have, in a previous era, practiced shooting basketballs now practice shooting guns. “It’s not uncommon for kids in the CAR to ask themselves, ‘Can anything good happen to me in life?’” Franklin says. “We heard how much they loved basketball, so we wanted to give them back the sport as a way to boost their passion.” To help revive this national pastime, OneHope organized youth basketball clinics with local pastors in the capital city of Bangui. They recruited Adrian Crawford, a former Florida State University basketball star, to join the clinics, and they developed a smartphone app to coach pastors on how to run effective practices with their teams. As soon as practice began on the first day of the clinic, hundreds of kids showed up in a matter of minutes, ready to play and wearing only ragged shorts and flip-flops. It wasn’t long before the court was filled with smiles. But practice wasn’t over when the game was. At the end of the clinic’s first day, the staff gave every participant a copy of Book of Hope—an interactive, Bible-based magazine. As the participants’ love for basketball grows, so does their love for God’s truth. This is just what happened to 16-year-old Emmanuel, who gave his life to Christ after hearing Crawford speak on a Sunday morning. When Emmanuel received an opportunity to travel to the U.S. to play basketball, he was thrilled. However, his visa was not approved. “I assumed he would be so frustrated and would walk away from Christ because he had been denied this great opportunity,” Franklin REJECTAPATHY.COM
says. But a few weeks later, “[Emmanuel] still had such excitement for his future because of the [promises of the] Word of God. This is the change we strive for.” Emmanuel still hopes to play professional basketball someday, but has plans to complete secondary school and attend a university first. A BIGGER PICTURE
What about practical issues of poverty? While the Word of God may have the power to restore hope and value, youth who lack basic life skills will still struggle to succeed in the world. Rather than separate social development from spiritual formation, OneHope coordinates the efforts of local churches to engage social needs through initiatives that are creatively rooted in Scripture. For example, according to the World Fact Book of the CIA, about 44 percent of the Central African Republic’s population is illiterate. But among children, this percentage rises much higher. Franklin explains that in most local schools, up to eight students must share one book, since so many children lack reading materials required to learn. OneHope chose to combine a physical solution to this problem with a spiritual one. Partnering with local churches, the organization shipped over 200,000 books to schools in the CAR and developed a literacy program specifically for mothers and children. These materials follow the metanarrative of Scripture, so while students become literate, they’re also learning the story of how God has redeemed the world. Another physical challenge facing youth in the CAR is a lack of clean water. The scarcity of this resource has caused over 60 percent of school-aged children in the country to suffer from roundworms and other parasites—diseases that not only debilitate health, but also limit a child’s 22
ability to attend school and prepare for the future. To address this issue, OneHope recently piloted a new hygiene education program for children. Wanting, once again, to do more than meet basic needs, the program provides each child with anti-parasitic medicine as well as an illustrated booklet that couples practical hygiene lessons with biblical principles. In all its initiatives, from basketball to hygiene, OneHope weaves lessons of character development, as modeled by Jesus
and other biblical figures, such as Joseph and Daniel, believing that cultural transformation takes root when change happens on all levels—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. “We don’t just want these kids to have a religious experience,” Franklin says. “We want the love of God to reflect off every part of their lives.” A BRIGHTER FUTURE
Theodore Kapou, bishop of the Apostolic Church, has been praying for this national renewal in the CAR for years. From his
post, where he oversees the country’s largest network of churches, Kapou has seen how social ills can be combated with God’s truth—and he believes future blessing starts with claiming God’s promises in the present.
“We can see the hopelessness,” he says, “but God is our hope, and a nation that puts its hope in God will be blessed.” When Hoskins and Kapou discovered they shared a similar vision for the CAR, they united their efforts in local church
communities. Together, the two friends have been raising up youth leaders who model biblical lifestyles for others to follow. Kapou and Hoskins soon discovered many others who had caught this vision, as well. Take a young man named Ernest, for example. When OneHope team leaders hired a translator to help them learn the local dialect, they hired a translator locally known as “Pastor Ernest.” When they asked the young man how he had acquired his title, Ernest took a deep breath and shared his story. He had grown up in the streets of Bangui without an education, struggling to find food every day. He converted to Islam as a teenager to gain access to Muslim feeding programs, but he never understood the religion. One day, a stranger had pity on him and invited him to lunch. When the man uttered the name of Jesus when praying before their meal, Ernest unexpectedly burst into tears. “What’s happening to me? Why am I weeping?” he asked. The man replied, “Jesus is showing you how much He loves you.” In response, Ernest accepted Christ and became the man’s disciple. From that point forward, Ernest thrived in his new faith, yet he was frustrated by his inability to read Scripture. He prayed and asked God for help—and God answered His prayer. Ten years later, at age 26, Ernest is fluent in English, French and Sango. He has a family, works as a translator and runs a small network of house churches. When he looks at his past, Ernest realizes it was a single word that set his life on a new course that has led him here. “God has blessed me so much,” he says. “I owe everything to the Word of God.” Now, when Franklin looks down the streets of the Central African Republic, he doesn’t see the bullets lodged in building walls or the craters left from rebel bombings. He doesn’t think of the corruption that has shackled the nation for decades. Instead, he remembers Minister
Bokassa, Emmanuel, Pastor Ernest and many others who have endured lifelong hardship yet stand today rooted in the Word of God. Although placing a country’s future in the hands of children may seem risky, Franklin points to the Gospel—the story of one small Jewish child who grew up to forever change the world. In light of God’s Word, Franklin—and many Central African Republic youth with him— is beginning to see how the most powerful change starts with the smallest of seeds.
[ TAKE ACTION ]
GO DEEPER STAY UPDATED ON THE REGION THROUGH THE HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FOCUS ON THE C.A.R. TO PRAY THROUGH CURRENT NEWS AND EVENTS. TEXT “TRUTH” TO 50555 TO GIVE $10 TO ONEHOPE. FUNDS WILL PROVIDE 30 CHILDREN WITH A PRESENTATION OF THE GOSPEL.
CURT DEVINE writes about faith and social justice to give a voice to the voiceless. He currently resides in Washington, D.C., where he is pursuing a master’s degree in international media. Find more of his stories at www.curtdevine.com.
BY STEPHANIE SMITH
WHERE WORLD CHANGE
EUGENE CHO ON WHY WE NEED TO START SMALL— BUT CAN’T AFFORD TO STAY THERE The answer, according to Eugene Cho, is yes and no. And he would know. When Eugene and his wife, Minhee, launched One Day’s Wages (ODW) in 2009, they made a modest, personal request of those they told about it: Will you give one day’s income—a mere 0.4 percent of your annual salary—to When faced with a world full of combat extreme poverty? staggering need, even the most Of course, one person’s donation is not enough compassionate person can feel to end global poverty. But when these individual overwhelmed and unsure how to commitments are combined, they add up. Just a few start shouldering real change. After years later, in 2012, what individual people can do to all, can one person really change the make a difference has swelled to over $1 million in tide on global poverty, war, disease donations to feed, clothe, shelter and educate people and violation of human rights? living in the grip of poverty around the world.
We sat down with Eugene Cho to talk about the impact of starting small, his recent trip to the White House and why this generation needs to be less enamored with the idea of world change and more willing to be changed themselves. COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD, WESTERNERS ARE QUITE RICH—AND MANY WOULD SAY THAT SINCE GOD HAS BLESSED US, WE SHOULD BLESS OTHERS. WOULD YOU SAY THIS METRIC OF COMPARISON IS A HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE?
I think there’s a downside with all things. There are pros and cons. We have to be careful of extremes. What is meant to be good, if we’re not careful, can become idolatrous; it can become our righteousness in some way. I think it’s important to be mindful about that. But we cannot ignore the fact that 80 percent of the world lives on less than $10 a day. We just can’t ignore it. This fact is not [meant] to pummel people and to [impose] guilt—that’s not the intent—but when 1.4 billion people live on under 5 quarters a day, I think it has to make us think about the lack of equity in the world. Something is indeed askew with the world. As Christians, it’s not to drive people to guilt, but I think if there are metaphorical tables that we should flip over, that would be one of them. WITH SO MANY NEEDS IN THE WORLD, HOW CAN CHRISTIANS KNOW WHERE AND HOW TO FOCUS THEIR EFFORTS?
As Christians, we have to be committed to the Gospel. And for me, the Gospel is not just personified
in the four spiritual laws. It’s not just our ticket to heaven. I’m not trying to diminish the importance of salvation, but I think it’s about a commitment to the Kingdom—that we don’t have to yearn and wait until that day. As Christians, I think we should be about the work of God, the work of shalom, of restoration, of redemption—all of those things, in all of their simplicity and profundity. So, with that in mind, I think we trust the Holy Spirit to be working within us. There are many causes, and I think that’s good, because there are many needs. But I would caution Christians and Christian organizations: Let’s stop pitting causes and ideas against each other. Trust that the Holy Spirit is
working in the lives of people. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to people is, “You can’t do everything.” And I think one of the reasons we might be a little bit shallow in our generation is because we’re trying to invest ourselves in too many things. So, I would caution folks: Be informed and educated about many things, but go deep in a few things. WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PASSING MOMENTS OF EMPATHY AND A COMMITMENT TO ACT AND FIGHT FOR CHANGE?
I think part of it is that we live in a very narcissistic world. I think that narcissism is even more tempting today because of all the tools of new media and social media. I mean, we can’t have lunch without telling people what we’re eating or taking pictures of our food. I think the world can go on. I think we just have to realize that we do live in a world where we’re challenged by that, and what I love to encourage people in is taking the step to shut up and listen for a while—to really listen. I love Nehemiah’s response when he’s convicted about [the exile of ] Israel. The Bible says in chapter 1, starting from verse 4, that he prays. He fasts. And if people do the math, historically, scholars say he does this
I WOULD LOVE OUR GENERATION TO TAKE MORE TIME TO LISTEN, TO PRAY, TO ALLOW IT TO BREAK US ... WE SHOULD BE ABOUT THE MARATHON AND NOT ABOUT THE INSTANT JUSTICE GRATIFICATION. REJECTAPATHY.COM
for about three to four months. He just prays and fasts. He listens. It really breaks him. I have a friend that says we don’t do justice— justice does us. I would love our generation to take more time to listen, to pray, to allow it to break us in some ways, as opposed to wanting to immediately make an impact. We should be about the marathon and not about the instant justice gratification.
ways, and we forget that there are other people, other faith groups, that are doing amazing things. So, I was blown away. And it isn’t so much about the idea of other people’s best practices—that was there—but it was just humbling to see all the conversation about common ground. That’s a key phrase we hear a lot: How do we work with a common ground for the prosperity of our city, of the larger world? To see it, and to see people feed off its energy, was pretty amazing. We sometimes have that Elijah complex where
an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
we go, “Am I the only one who cares about these things?” It’s dumb. It’s stupid. I’ve gone through it. And so that was encouraging—to see we are not alone in this fight. The other thing I would say is the word “collaborate” came up constantly: We’ve got to collaborate together. We’ve got to work together. What’s the common ground together? How can I encourage you? How can you encourage me? It reminded me of a quote that was shared—it’s
I want to accentuate the idea that you can’t do everything on your own. This whole Lone Ranger perspective is dangerous. I think the person [who] tries to do everything will do nothing well. We’re not able to go deep. I tend to consider our
YOU’VE BEEN KNOWN TO SPEAK ABOUT CHALLENGES YOU SEE THIS GENERATION FACING WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR AID AND JUSTICE METHODS. COULD YOU SAY MORE ABOUT THIS?
THIS PAST JULY, YOU WERE INVITED TO THE WHITE HOUSE FOR THE INAUGURAL FAITH-BASED SOCIAL INNOVATORS CONFERENCE TO SPEAK ON A PANEL ABOUT HOW PEOPLE OF FAITH CAN LEAD SOCIAL CHANGE. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THAT EXPERIENCE?
It was one of the most phenomenal experiences. I’ve never been in a room of such diversity—in terms of ethnicity, age and certainly religious background. Just to be in that room and to look around and see people that I’ve never met—to see people that kind of look like me, some that look different than me, some from different faith backgrounds. I think in our evangelical cultures—whether we intend to or not—we isolate ourselves in some 26
generation the NPR generation—“I heard it on NPR.” We’re not willing to do the work. We’re not willing to dig in. We’re the Wikipedia generation. Don’t tell any of my friends who are authors, but I’ve not finished any of their books. I like starting books; I don’t finish. I like reading headlines; I don’t
YOU CANNOT ASK PEOPLE TO DO SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO DO. THAT KIND OF LEADERSHIP DOES NOT R E S O N A T E WITH PEOPLE. read the content. And so I think we can diagnose it, but we’ve got to change it in some way. The other thing that I would say to encourage other folks who are wanting to impact change is this: You cannot ask people to do something you’re not
willing to do. That kind of leadership does not resonate with people. I say this not to sound boastful, but this has been the one thing to this day where I get the bulk of my criticism from folks. One of the reasons why I think One Day’s Wages has resonated with people is that we were convicted by the Holy Spirit a few years ago to give up a year’s wages. I did not like that conviction. I didn’t like it at all. It took me three years to kind of come to peace with that decision. Three years. But I think that has really resonated with people. I’m not asking people to give up a year’s wages, but I’m not asking them to do something that our family hasn’t chosen to demonstrate for themselves. FOR CHRISTIANS TODAY WHO CARE ABOUT GLOBAL AND LOCAL INJUSTICE AND WANT TO HELP, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE SOME FIRST STEPS TO TRANSLATE THAT COMPASSION INTO ACTION?
We do justice because of the Gospel, not the other way around. Everything that I aspire to do is because of this amazing thing called the Gospel that’s personified not in just theological jargon but in the person of Jesus. It’s a journey. It took me—I’m 42—38 years, I think, to grow into my own skin. So, I want to leave a lot of room and grace to our younger brothers and sisters. And I think sometimes it requires journeying and experimenting and dabbling in different kinds of organizations. But I think, eventually, if we want to make a deeper impact, and if we trust that God is at work in the larger world and in the larger body of Christ, it is important for us to be attentive to a few convictions. There are three ways I would suggest going deep. Number one: How do you invest your treasure into that which you care about? Are you willing to pray for these things? Are you willing to invest your own money sacrificially? That’s huge. No one likes to talk about that because money is something handled privately
or inwardly. But the way that we spend our money is a great indication of our hearts—of where we place our treasure, as Matthew 6 says. Secondly, are we really gaining intellectual capital? Do we know our stuff really, really well? I’ve met many folks that just love these issues, and then when I ask and go deeper, they just don’t have the ability to engage in a deeper conversation. Just shooting a nice, cute video isn’t going to change the world. I mean, you’ve got to dig very, very deep. And finally, one last thing I would say is to go deep in a community of people who are also interested in [the social issue] as well. I believe God never speaks vision in isolation to one person. So, if you feel like, “Man, am I the only person?”—you’re not. There are other people who care, and we have to collaborate with them.
[ TAKE ACTION ]
MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE • GIVE A DAY’S INCOME TO ONE DAY’S WAGES. • CONSIDER SOMETHING YOU’RE ALREADY DOING THAT YOU CAN INVITE OTHERS TO DO, TOO. • CHOOSE A CAUSE YOU CARE ABOUT AND SET ABOUT TO STUDY IT MORE DEEPLY. • SET ASIDE A PERIOD OF TIME TO FAST, PRAY AND LISTEN.
He is called before King Herod and Pilate in Jerusalem. From His triumphal entry to His cleansing of the temple to His death as a political criminal, Jesus challenges worldly authority by submitting to the Father. “Not my will, but yours be done,” He prays. But Jesus is also doing a new thing. Though the new era of God’s peaceable Kingdom was real in the community of the Messiah, the early After months of waiting, we get the Church knew from experience that news. Tom Fox, the lone American the kingdoms of this world are also hostage, has been found dead on a still very real. Christians understand garbage heap outside Baghdad, one bullet themselves to be living the way of the through his head and another through peaceable Kingdom right alongside his heart. I think of his friends from the the violence of an order that is passing Quaker meeting in Northern Virginia away, its ultimate defeat assured at who joined us just weeks before to keep the cross. vigil with CPT outside White House, The challenge, for early Christians, praying for Tom and asking our country’s was not to overcome the world. Jesus president to listen to his witness. had already done that. The challenge Another way is possible, indeed. But it was to faithfully inhabit Jesus’ way of might cost you your life. People like Tom engaging the powers. The new thing know this. Their lives have been claimed they found in Jesus was a new way of JONATHAN WILSON-HARTGROVE by a God who would rather die in love being in the world. than guarantee justice by the threat In the midst of a “war on terror,” am sitting in the lobby of a small of violence. Having found new it can be difficult to remember why hotel in Baghdad, listening to an life in Christ, Tom lived and died we would rather die than kill. But to American grandmother who has in that love. forget the peculiar witness of martyrs spent her last six months in Iraq. She is Kings and presidents are used to like Tom Fox is to forget the “new a member of the Christian Peacemaker people heeding their commands. If thing” the New Testament celebrates Teams (CPT), a literal reserves for foot we do not, violence is their trump as the unique sign of Christ’s soldiers in the army of the Lord. Since card. But God’s people remember resurrection power. 1986, CPT has made its mission to “get in that no king is higher than the King We remember these saints as a the way” of violence by practicing direct of the universe, and the Creator of way of reminding ourselves that no action nonviolence in conflict zones—to life is stronger than death. If the power deserves our allegiance more say, “Another way is possible.” law of the land contradicts the than the One who raised Jesus from A few years later, as they are leaving word of our Lord, we the dead. No way is more a meeting with Iraqi partners, four know whose command trustworthy than the way JONATHAN WILSONHARTGROVE is CPT-ers are taken hostage by a group we must follow. of nonviolent love. an author and of extremists. Muslim friends in Iraq Jesus inhabits this Adapted from Awakening of sought-after condemn the action and ask for the tradition of divine Hope by Jonathan Wilsonspeaker. He is Hartgrove. ©2012. Used by peacemakers’ release. Off and on, the obedience (and civil also a graduate permission of Zondervan. hostages are in the news for months. disobedience) when of Eastern www.zondervan.com
THE WAY OF NONVIOLENT LOVE
University and Duke Divinity School.
[USE] You have to buy food and clothes, anyway. Why not purchase goods that give back? Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite products that don’t just sit pretty on a shelf but also support good causes—and they do so in style. 5
1. FORGOTTEN SHIRTS, $29 forgottenshirts.com
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WHEN HELPING HURTS By Steve Corbett and
THE HUMAN RIGHT WE CAN’T AFFORD TO FORGET
hen Tiffany was 9 years old, she opened a book in her classroom just outside a slum in Peru. She didn’t know it then, but she had also opened a door to a new life. Tiffany lived in San Juan de Lurigancho—a squatter community just outside the city limits of Lima—where her family had fled after rebel armies drove them away from their home in the mountains. Tiffany grew up in a shack her family cobbled together with anything they could find. Their home was as fragile as the family that lived in it— an alcoholic father, abused mother and hungry children all barely holding it together each day. But one day visitors came to Tiffany’s classroom and handed out what they called the Book of Hope, filled with colorful illustrations and stories proclaiming God’s truth. She took the book home and read it with her mom that night. The next day, they went to the visitors’ HopeFest celebration, where they dedicated their lives to the man called Jesus they had read about in the book. But it didn’t stop there. Tiffany’s brother and sister also chose to follow Christ. Then Tiffany’s father, witnessing the transformation of his family, began to attend church with them. He stopped drinking, committed his life to Christ, got a new job and moved his family into a better neighborhood with a real home. It’s common knowledge that every child is entitled to certain basic human rights—access to food, clean water, education and physical safety. These basic elements keep a child in good health, and compromising any one of them is 32
widely considered an injustice. OneHope believes another injustice exists. If it’s social injustice to deny a human being the basic needs to thrive in this life, then it’s spiritual injustice to deny them the truth of life through Christ and the hope to come. This is why OneHope brought the Book of Hope to Tiffany and her classmates—and why they’re bringing it to many other children around the world. OneHope is committed to a vision of bringing God’s Word to every child by 2030—because “every child deserves the right to receive God’s truth to bring hope to their situation.” Studies show the years between 4 and 14—also known as the 4/14 window—are some of the most formative. This is the period in which a child’s values, character and worldview are critically developed, as well as the timeframe in which children are most likely to make a decision to follow Christ. By reaching the 2 billion children of the world today with God’s Word in this pivotal stage of life, OneHope seeks to transform the next global generation from the inside out.
LEARN ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN THROUGH ONEHOPE’S COUNTRYFOCUSED RESEARCH. Get involved with God’s Truth Project— OneHope’s effort to administer spiritual justice as an essential part of the response to a hurting and broken world.
Fourteen years later, Tiffany has a classroom of her own—a preschool where she teaches children under 5 and reaches them with the love of Christ. “This is why I am here,” she says. “To teach them ... about the life of Jesus.” As Tiffany knows, transforming children can also transform their families, their futures and their communities. That’s the power of God’s truth.
If it’s social injustice to deny humanity the basic needs to thrive in this life, then it is spiritual injustice to deny them the truth of life through Christ and the hope to come.
OneHope is committed to the vision of bringing God’s Word to every child by 2030—because “every child deserves the right to receive God’s truth to bring hope to their situation.”
TAKE ACTION SKIP 1 TAKE ACTION
The best organizations shouldering good work in the world today don’t do it alone—they invite the rest of us to join in. Here’s a few simple ways you can lend a hand to a good cause.
S.O.A.P. Skip1.org taps into the world’s wealth through micro-donations that bring food, water and kitchens to the Dominican Republic, Peru, Uganda and the U.S.
It stands for “Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution” and is an outreach effort to distribute soap bars to local motels to educate staff about human trafficking.
INSTEAD OF BUYING THAT LATTE, HOODIE, MANICURE OR MAGAZINE, SKIP IT TO FUND FOOD AND WATER PROJECTS WORLDWIDE.
ORGANIZE A S.O.A.P. OUTREACH EVENT IN YOUR COMMUNITY—ESPECIALLY IF A HIGH-PROFILE SPORTING EVENT IS COMING YOUR WAY.
GOD’S TRUTH PROJECT
Kay Warren launched this ministry through Saddleback Church to equip local churches around the world to end AIDS.
DOWNLOAD THE PRAYER GUIDE AND COMMIT TO PRAYING FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY AIDS AT A PERSONAL, LOCAL AND GLOBAL LEVEL.
PARADIGM SHIFT TAKE ACTION
Empowering churches to fight poverty at local levels, Paradigm Shift trains volunteer teams to help micro-entrepreneurs empower themselves.
GATHER AT LEAST FIVE OTHERS FROM YOUR LOCAL CHURCH TO RUN THE ONE-DAY BUSINESS EXPERIENCE COURSE FOR MICRO-ENTREPRENEURS IN YOUR AREA.
Founded to advocate for spiritual justice in response to a hurting world, God’s Truth Project explores how God’s Word can speak into social issues.
OFFER ENCOURAGEMENT AND PRAY FOR TEENS STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE THROUGH A LOCAL EFFORT OF GOD’S TRUTH PROJECT, MY BROKEN PALACE.
POLARIS PROJECT TAKE ACTION
For the past 10 years, the Polaris Project has mobilized ordinary citizens to raise their voices to combat sex trafficking.
VISIT THE POLARIS PROJECT WEBSITE TO STAY INFORMED AND UPDATED ON TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION AND TO LEARN HOW TO ADVOCATE CONGRESS TO SUPPORT ANTI-TRAFFICKING LAWS.