Gary Haugen spoke to us last Tuesday afternoon at the pastor’s conference at Moody. Gary is the president of the International Justice Mission, a Christian organization dedicated to providing “investigation strategies, legal expertise, and cutting-edge technology to rescue individual victims of injustice and abuse around the world.” His topic: God’s priority for justice, and how his organization is working in that area.
A little background on Gary first; the guy is a pit bull. He’s rather a small man, but his physique and flat-top haircut would lead you to believe he’s done a stint in the Marines. (That’s purely conjecture on my part, but you get the image.) He grew up in a Christian family, graduated from Harvard Law, went to work for the Department of Justice, and was the head of the UN task force that went to Rwanda to investigate the genocide back in the 90’s. He’s obviously seen a lot in his time.
Gary described his work in Rwanda briefly; harder than sifting through the dead bodies, he said, was having to interview the ones who survived. He then told us about people who have been subjects of persecution and injustice in various places: an african man who was randomly shot by the police and then jailed so he couldn’t talk about it; a 9-year-old girl sold into slavery, forced to roll cigarettes 12 hours a day; young girls sold into prostitution rings; our stomachs were turning after just the first description or two. I think we often choose to forget or ignore these brutalities, here in the USA. And in a sense, I can understand it. (More on that later.)
Gary then walked us through several scriptures that point out God’s concern for justice, for protecting the innocent and “defending the orphan and the widow”. Key among his texts was Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, o man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Justice is mentioned first. So why do we ignore it so often? I need to examine this in my own life.
I’ve always had sort of a built-in repulsion to “bleeding heart” presentations or pleas. Partly, I suppose, this is due to my engineering nature; I want the bare facts, not all the emotional things that can cloud the issue. But I think there’s another side to it; it’s not that I don’t care about the people; it’s more that I feel overwhelmed. What can I do? And so, if I can’t do anything, I’d much rather forget about it than be nagged by the reminders of a hopeless problem.
What Gary did on Tuesday was remind us that it isn’t hopeless. There are people who are doing good work. His mission is one. I may have to think about supporting it in the future. And prayer is our number one tool. Too often I forget to pray; I just get caught up in the helplessness of it all. Thanks to God for being the Helper of the helpless. There are no helpless situations with Him.