My morning rhythm has various OCD tendencies, and the most important of all is grabbing one of my Papillon mugs and putting creamer in it before walking upstairs to join the myriad of visiting Americans sating their java addictions at the coffee pot. One morning last week was no different…Bible in hand, mug in the other, walking across the parking lot, eyes blinking against the intense Caribbean morning sun, up the stairs and straight to the coffee pot. No eye contact. No talking. Just trekking. Ugh. Why does my mind and body have to hate mornings?
Resisting the urge to yawn yet again while holding my precious elixir, I walked to the upper deck for devotions with our group that is in town visiting the Pastor’s kids. As I sat, I was jolted awake with captive interest at the Bible verses for this morning from Isaiah 1. I could have bypassed the coffee pot entirely this morning had I known conversation with friends, bouncing perspectives off of each other and digging into Isaiah 1 awaited me on the top deck. This paragraph alone should tell you how thankful I am for people to talk Bible with are in country. Contented sigh and heart full of community.
The book of Isaiah ignites my natural passion to fight the injustice of this world. Isaiah 58 will always be imbedded in my calling. Actually, passion is a really tame word for what God ignites in me. Injustice makes me f-ing angry, and no one ever wants to see a redhead angry. Trust me. There are so many things that are just not right, and if I do not use the life I’ve been given to fight for those are stuck in a hopeless cycle of injustice or those who feel their voice doesn’t count and use my voice to make sure they know their worth…my life is wasted.
A good Biblical definition of injustice is this:
A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away. [Proverbs 13:23]
Injustice is not fair, and while living outside of the States…it is overwhelming the amount of injustice you are assaulted with on a daily basis. I am given a front row experience on what real injustice is in the majority world.
It is not fair that people are hungry.
It’s not fair a 5 year old girl bears the raggedy scars of abuse up and down her arms and back.
It is not fair that parents drowning in their lack of basic needs like food, water, clothes and education feel no choice other than to give their children to an orphanage for someone else to take care of them.
It is not fair that a lack of health care for the general population results in unnecessary deaths and diseases of ALL ages, some easily preventable or curable.
It’s not fair the unemployment rate is 70%, stripping dignity of the people to earn a living wage and provide for their families.
It’s not fair that when they are employed, yet they are not earning a living sustainable wage.
It’s not fair that politicians are so selfish and corrupt they are immune to their countries’ needs.
It’s not fair those that lead the country cannot seem to get their shit together for the good of their people.
The injustice is overwhelming.
Seared into my mind is the day God brought me to the words of the prophet Habakkuk. I was struggling with a wide array of opinions surrounding my choice to go to China during the summer of 2001. By that point, I knew who God had created me to be, but the opinions around me were not forming the same consensus. I’d been sitting on a bench, at a lake I typically escaped to north of Des Moines, when a deer approached me. Stunned, when the deer left, I dove back into the word and there was a deer photo on the book of Habakkuk in my study Bible and I started reading. Habakkuk was not shy with what he said to God, actually I imagine if he used current world language there would have been a healthy dose of cursing. He saw the evil, the sin taking over and the injustice that overwhelms the poor in the world that comes with both of those factors. He was pissed, and felt it was God’s role to do something. When I read Habakkuk in 2001, he knew where I would be living 15 years later. And when I think about all of the things that are unfair in Haiti, it would make complete sense for me to echo Habakkuk who was confronted with the similar visuals:
How long oh, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. [Habakkuk 1:2-4]
These words are so pertinent to Haiti right now, and it would take me 4,000 more words to help you understand why. I don’t even know the half of it, but it continually makes my heart ache.
There are many in the States who are passionate about justice, and confronting injustice. A lot of social campaigns, a lot of social media words and so many conferences devoted to the ‘battle.’ It is a Gospel truth, and I am very grateful it is resonating among those in the States God is moving among. Believers and those that don’t believe…God is the core of that movement. But how much of their passion is hollow? How much of that passion really has follow through? Are they empty words and promises?
But the thing I keep thinking about is that they don’t know the small girl with eyes filled with a blank deadness, marks of pain all over her body, flinching at every small movement around her, the skinniness of her frame after it had suffered her entire life and craving the enormous gift of protection. They don’t know how her joyful, spunky personality that has exploded once that protection was given.
They don’t know the names and faces of the people who rescued her from that certain death.
They don’t know the names and faces of those that are helping support the people who gave her that protection.
They don’t know the names and faces of people who give to that entity that supports them.
But do they need to know their names and faces?
God calls his people to fight injustice, to defend the oppressed, to cloth those that need clothes, provide a living sustainable wage, to stand up to bullies and to support those that are on the front lines of that fight throughout the ENTIRE world. The States included, because God calls his people to all facets of this world. The reality is God is calling his people to participate in EVERY aspect of that fight. Some are never meant to be on the front lines. I know I am not on the front lines. I am close, but I am not on the front lines. That is where the pastors and their congregations are called to minister. It will always be a million times more effective for Haitians to minister to Haitians in a culturally effective and honoring way. I do know the names and faces of those on the front lines, and I call them friends. I get to encourage them. I get to be sad with them. I get to celebrate victories with them. This is where God has called me to be.
The question is where is God calling you to step into his heart? Where will you use the gifts and talents he has given you to help fight injustice?
These are questions you need to wrestle with, because it isn’t always going to be like this. God is moving. God has promised. God redeems and restores. It is exciting that each of us is grafted somehow into his victorious story. It is exciting to see him show up, yet still only have a small piece of the massive redemption story of this world.
Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. [Habakkuk 1:5]