The Good News About Injustice
Olivet Nazarene University
The Good News About Injustice
Gary Haugen’s thesis is a concise and to-the-point confrontation within our very narrow-minded awareness of the realities of matters pertaining to global injustice. His thesis is a message known first-hand by so many thousands who suffer and yet for too many of us, it remains all so often “out of sight, out of mind,” as he phrased it. This book states that people want to pretend that the injustice is not there because it would make them feel better about themselves. He then moves from that position to a somewhat uncomfortable position of “into sight and mind, yet not out of reach” throughout the latter two-thirds of his message. Not only is the message of justice ministry in sight, but it is imperative that it is in our sights. He challenges the way we do church against the way we become the church. Finally, throughout the last two thirds of the book, he weaves different threads of Scriptural hope in the God of justice.
God has called us to love what he loves and despise what he despises. Gary Haugen and the International Justice Mission have taken this call seriously. They have adopted lives committed to stamping out the injustices of the world. This book has opened my heart to a greater sense of compassion for those victims caught in the grip of severe persecution as well as given me newly directed passion to be a part of God's redemptive work surrounding human injustice.
How could our society become more informed about the injustices at home and abroad and yet have no response? This type of inactivity is precisely where Christians should not be. As Shane Claiborne tells it, “I felt as though I were standing in between non-believing activists and inactive believers.” This is where Haugen’s book serves as a tool where beyond informative fact, moves us practically toward seeking justice and becoming a more biblical people of change? It’s not a mere call to action or a challenge, nor is it about untried theories about what types of things people may try that he himself has not. Complete with checklists, this material doubles as a handbook for social justice.
The author develops the tension well and attempts to address the paralysis of analysis. With carefully chosen specific examples of mistreatment, Haugen presents the vivid results of cruel sin that otherwise would not have been stumbled upon by most of us in our mindless work to home to job to babysitter existence. This place is a place that can be implemented by decision. Information is power, or at least we tell ourselves this. But when the information is so overwhelming and often far removed from anyplace we may presume to have influence, the power does not seem to follow the information. Thus, we seize up and do nothing. Haugen compares this to the deer-in-the-headlights syndrome. He states, “The vastness of the injustice that international Christian workers encounter is truly staggering . . . It is nearly impossible to get our minds wrapped around the human magnitude of these numbers” (p. 42).
This syndrome is not an excuse to do nothing. In fact, it’s a place that one should celebrate. It would be a landmark to personally see the immediacy of the crisis, to see oneself in its path. For Haugen, there is something more of God and God’s power that we will miss if we do not ever find ourselves surrounded in suffering. Donald Miller confirms this point in a phone interview with Mike Parker where he comments on Job’s suffering. Job can know that God is so good that the pain he will endure to gain this perspective will not matter. But the mystery is this: what is “good” about this news? Especially after getting outside of the United States, he was exposed to greater amounts of pain and simultaneously equally greater amounts of God’s grace and power. So much so, that to return to the U.S. and commute an Ohio highway with...
References: Haugen, G. A. (2009). Good news about injustice: A witness of courage in a hurting world. (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, USA.
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