altJust Courage:  God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, by Gary Haugen (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 2008) offers a free download each month, and a few months ago the offering was Just Courage.  I'd rather read a book than listen to it, but audio books are perfect on my walks or when driving.  It sounded interesting, and the price was certainly right. 

Gary Haugen is the president and CEO of International Justice Mission.*  I was not familiar with the organization before reading (listening to) Just Courage, but it's enough to make one hesitate before making the next lawyer joke.  The description from their website sums their mission up well.

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems.

Much of what is spoken and written about "justice," especially among Christian writers, does not sit well with me.  There is altogether too much of a communist, or at least socialist, approach:   the idea that if you have money or education or power or land, it is at someone else's expense; that the rich (meaning just about everyone in the West) are wealthy because they have stolen from and oppressed the poor.  There may well be something to this, but I know too much about our own hard work and sacrifices, and those of our parents and other ancestors, not to find it offensive. Certainly it's neither helpful nor inspiring.

Haugen's approach is altogether different.  If I could paraphrase it, it would be that there is much suffering and injustice in the world, and those who have resources are invited to be a part of the great and joyful work of liberation and healing.  That positive viewpoint is the greatest benefit I received from Just Courage, though it's almost incidental to Haugen's main point about the spiritual growth that comes in bringing justice to the oppressed and in choosing courage over safety.

When I first heard the challenge to put oneself in a position—as the IJM lawyers, undercover agents, and criminal investigators do daily—of guaranteed failure if God does not "show up" and bring about a miracle, my reaction was that in our current choir situation we do that every Sunday!  But somehow I think that's not what Haugen has in mind.


*IJM's Charity Navigator overall rating is three stars ("good") out of four.  Not perfect (I'd like to see a lower percentage of the budget given to administration and fundraising), but more than acceptable and not bad at all for an organization less than 15 years old.  UPDATE February 2013:  IJM's Charity Navigator is now up to the maximum four stars.
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Edit
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