The past few weeks have been full of horror and hope for me. There have been moments where I could do nothing but turn off the news. And there have been moments where I watched the news unfold, mesmerized to do little more than watch and pray.
Where is justice?
- In an effort to stamp out Hamas, Israel shelled it’s own people in Gaza, killing more than 1,000 civilians. This included women and children seeking shelter in United Nations facilities. It makes no sense to me. There’s no justification acceptable for it and yet our country is so afraid of Israel that they just stand by and watch. New York can’t build a wall around Jersey and then send in troops, can they?
- An unarmed teenager was gunned down by police in Ferguson, MO. Understandably, since Saturday racial tensions have continued to mount. Mostly peaceful protests have been punctuated by some regrettable looting and rapid militarization of the local police force. The police killed an unarmed teenager and then have the audacity to blame residents for being angry and taking to the streets? (Including the illegal arrests of two members of the media and an elected official.) The police exist to serve and protect the citizens! All of a sudden it looks the state of Missouri might just wall of the city of Ferguson. What’s next? Shelling?
- Thousands of Central American children and adolescents are detained by border patrol for illegally entering the United States. Instead of asking the question, “Why is this happening?” the news media and some elected officials in Washington act as though we’re being invaded. Famously, members of the public took the bait. Instead of responding in a humanitarian way, people showed up in Murrieta to protest children’s arrival at a detention facility. Adults. Picketed. Children!
- ISIS, a group so extreme that Al-queda won’t claim them, exploded into Iraq and are allegedly systematically committing genocidal acts against the population. It’s been hard to verify exactly what’s happening and there are rumors of all sorts of terror. But it’s abundantly clear that there’s an emerging humanitarian crisis going on. If the rumors are true, ISIS is committing atrocities that demand a response from neighboring countries.
All of these things stun the senses. They aren’t just news items. You can’t just flip the channel to a baseball game and move on. They are people.
I don’t know how people of conscience, much less ministers of the Gospel, can not stop what they are doing and pay attention.
These things are really happening. You and I have to act, somehow.
Prayer is not enough.
- Last week, I had the joyous opportunity to visit the new IJM field staff in the Dominican Republic. The government there is overwhelmed with the crisis of commercially trafficked sexual exploitation (adults & minors) and is welcoming the International Justice Mission with open arms. Even a semi-trained eye can walk around tourist areas in the DR and see rampant sexual exploitation. It brings me hope to meet with passionate people who don’t cast a blind eye to injustice in front of them, but make sacrifices to stand up, seek justice, and ensure that victims experience restoration.
- Two weeks ago I hung out with Jon Huckins, a good friend and co-founder of The Global Immersion Project. Their work started with leading experiences in Israel, taking Americans to all sides of the dispute there, hearing from leading voices in the peace process. Jon and his partner, Jer, are now taking those same lessons and helping leaders in cities throughout the U.S.. But I’m especially excited about two specific things with their work… 1. They are beginning a work helping church leaders better understand issues on the U.S./Mexico border with an immersion experience. 2. They are beginning to work with teenagers to help them understand the peacemaking process through immersion experiences.
- This week, Marko and I are finalizing our latest collaboration which will help youth workers equip and activate teenagers in their ministry around issues of justice. We’ll be making an official announcement about it in the coming weeks, but I’m very excited about the long-term impact of this pivot within the Cartel.
To be honest, this dichotomy is confusing. I’m angered and frustrated about the horrors going on. While at the same time this despair is back-filled with hope in the knowledge that there is a lot I can actually do.
And I suppose that’s what the meaning of hope is, right? When all you are left with is despair, hope rises.