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Posts Tagged ‘World Vision’

In 2006, I saw this video at a David Crowder concert that was going around online on youtube from three guys that traveled to Uganda. I had just surrendered my life to Christ and was exposed to injustice in other parts of the world for the first time. I was blown away by what I saw and I bought a copy of this video (Invisible Children’s Rough Cut) and watched it over and over again at home. The part where the little boy is describing how he and his brother were abducted by the LRA and how his brother never made it back just sat with me. He kept saying over and over again “my heart is beeping…”. I began supporting the war in Gulu through World Vision for many years after that.

Months later I would go to Belize and Passion ’07 and God opens my heart to cross-cultural missions. Then two really good friends of mine would leave AZ to live in Kenya to intern at Huruma Children’s Home and I would spend time following their journey and supporting them. In 2009, I would also travel to Kenya and visit the same orphanage on behalf of my church. It was not a good experience for me as I see firsthand how western churches have hurt other countries and ministries. I had just read When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and spent time learning about missions strategy with the Pathways/Perspectives course. While there, I saw tons of money being misused by both the orphanage and the church that sent me and some other things that I won’t discuss. People back home were being deceived and I had it out with God one night there in the middle of my trip because I was so disgusted. But God did something cool, He opened my heart up to the people of Kenya. I was able to put aside my frustrations and spend time building relationships with the people of Africa. I really developed a heart for them and even today I chat with my friends in Kenya and at the orphanage almost every week.

Me with one of the children at Huruma

Chris Tomlin releases “Love” with the Watoto children’s choir and the song really touches my heart. He would sing it in Kampala with the Passion World Tour to thousands of Africans in their language. Watoto is a holistic care ministry that helps orphans in Uganda that are victims of AIDS and war. Then the choir makes a surprise stop at my church and God once again opens up my heart to Africa. I started to learn about what these kids have gone through in Uganda and what we can do as Americans to effectively help them. The movie “Blood Diamond” comes out as well and really impacts me. It’s a movie about child soldiers in South Africa.

Watoto Children’s Choir at Cornerstone

In 2010, I attended a Passion conference with my girlfriend at the time in Atlanta. During the conference, we walked through the World Vision Experience – it is an interactive exhibit that combines audio and amazing photography and transports you to the heart of Africa. You get to experience stories of tragedy and triumph lived out by real children in AIDS-affected communities. It totally blew us both away. In the exhibit, you also have a chance to go to an AIDS clinic in Africa and feel what that is like as well as visit a truck stop on Kenya’s infamous AIDS highway (a road I actually got to drive on). I remember I couldn’t stop thinking about this exhibit for months and even tried to get my church at the time to do something very similar with Huruma.

Map of the AIDS highway in Kenya – Passion 2010

 

So where am I at today with all of this? I’m an ESL instructor for Somalian refugees here in Phoenix working alongside Peace Catalyst International and Redemption church. It’s a really awesome ministry God has brought to me right here in my own backyard and I am blessed to be a part of it and to be working with people from Africa. I spend a lot of time as well watching and reading about different ministries in Africa and how they are helping the situations over there. I am currently corresponding with a few ministries in three different countries in Africa.

 

For the past year I have felt a tugging in my heart to return to Africa. I watch several of these videos and I pray over all these wonderful ministries all over the world. I took a big chunk of time off work next summer and basically told God to use me for whatever He wants during that time. I have always believed that when you go through hard times, God is preparing you for something big and I can’t ignore the calling He has put in me. After much prayer, I will be spending some time in Africa next summer. I don’t what this looks like, but I have already started the process of raising funds and preparing my heart. I am excited and at the same time thankful to God for giving me an obedient heart to serve. This is who God made me to be. God’s doing a lot in the world and I just want to play my small role in the Kingdom.

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Today is, according to the United Nations, Social Justice Day.

For me, this is cool.

I like the phrase ‘social justice.’

We started The Justice Conference, which is coming up this weekend in Portland and is one of the largest international gatherings around biblical and social justice, so maybe it’s pretty obvious I like social justice and see it as a part of the outworking of my Christian faith and biblical justice.

Other folks share my excitement for social justice.

Here is World Vision from their blog today:

“Biblical references to the word “justice” mean “to make right.” Justice is, first and foremost, a relational term — people living in right relationship with God, one another, and the natural creation. From a scriptural point of view, “justice” means loving our neighbor as we love ourselves and is rooted in the character and nature of God. As God is just and loving, so we are called to do justice and live in love.”

Eugene Cho also tackles this subject on his blog today with this intro, “Today is World Day of Social Justice. Those two words, “Social Justice” can be very polarizing. For me, it matters because the Gospel matters. If you truly believe in the Gospel, then you have to believe that it matters not just for your personal salvation but God’s pursuit of restoration, redemption, & reconciliation for the entire world. I believe in this Gospel. I live for this Gospel.”

On the other end of the spectrum, I received this e-mail thread from a wise, older trusted friend and mentor this morning.

“By the way, I listen to MacArthur on my way to early morning workouts just to remind myself of how good it is to be free from all that crap. He’s in a series proving that the social justice movement isn’t biblical. So, brace yourself for the attacks.”

So why would some Christians be so excited about social justice while other Christians would be so hostile as to try and prove it to be unbiblical?

I think the biggest problem lies in the use of language.

What is the definition of Biblical Justice? This one is pretty easy. It is a definition that refers to justice referred to or promoted in the bible or scripture. There is an authority source (the Bible) and the question references this definitive source in seeking its answer.

What, however, is the definition of social justice? This one speaks to a category or sphere of justice. It doesn’t have in its name, though, the definitive source for it’s definition.

Thus the problem. Social justice can be defined or interpreted in a myriad of different ways.

If someone is mentored by Glen Beck (who made headlines a year ago for calling people to leave churches if “Social Justice” was talked about or espoused) they will define it as “Democratic socialist politics aimed at the forced redistribution of wealth.”

If someone follows a very legalistic Christian leader they will find it defined as “that liberal social gospel agenda whereby we try to make earth into heaven and distract people from the centrality of the cross and salvation.”

The more straightforward definition, however, is that social justice describes a sphere in which justice works – namely ‘the social sphere’ where issues of racism and poverty reside, where orphans, widows and foreigners face injustice, oppression and vulnerability and where huge issues like trafficking, HIV/Aids, famine and natural disaster relief fall into or overlap.

What other category of justice – criminal, business law, political law, international justice etc. – is large enough to include every aspect of the issues above?

If we drew this as a pie graph (see image below), social justice would be a slice, a sphere, in which justice operates.

Therefore, if God cares about the issues that would fall in that sphere, orphans, widows and foreigners, then it logically follows that social justice (as a category) harmonizes with Biblical Justice.

Here is the caveat.

Social justice, if it is a sphere of justice in the social arena, doesn’t necessarily settle the question on how best to enact justice for the poor, oppressed or vulnerable. It leaves the question of method, means, efficiency and effectiveness up for discussion.

This is another part of the problem with peoples’ understanding of social justice… believing there should be justice in the social sectors doesn’t pre-commit you to a certain political party or theory of enacting social justice.

Wealth redistribution and other hot buttons can be argued about, both sides can present cases as to why their view is the most effective or efficient, without attacking the idea of social justice itself.

We would be far better off realizing God cares for and wants justice for the marginalized while arguing means than denigrating social justice itself.

Unlike Glen Beck, I don’t find the term (historically or otherwise) as necessarily being defined as socialist politics. Additionally, if God is a God of justice and commands justice then I don’t find it helpful, like many legalistic pastors, to pit God against mercy, compassion or justice. As if God would be happy with us if we kept ourselves pure by avoiding social justice and walking to the other side of the road.

Wasn’t the parable of the Good Samaritan aimed at just this point? That legalistic or pietistic religion can often lead to a counter-intuitive ignoring of love of neighbor (the Priest and Levite) and that often it is the least religious who empathizes or understands love of neighbor best (the Samaritan). See Luke chapter 10 verses 30 and following.

Maybe being against social justice is a white middle-class issue.

I know this sounds inflammatory, but most folks I know who have a lot of animosity toward the phrase itself tend to be white middle-class. However, all of my Christian friends in the relief and international development world, those who work in urban contexts, those who have taken vows of poverty or service or those who are or live in minority communities seem to take the phrase at face value and almost as a given – there should be justice in the social sectors… God, scripture and much of Christian history stand with and for the vulnerable and oppressed!

Theologian John Stott once called the movement away from justice issues by the church in recent times, “the Great Reversal.” He meant to imply that this was a departure from Christian history where Christians where often at the forefront of social issues, justice issues, charities, hospital building and so much more.

I find this whole question, “Is Social Justice Biblical,” to be the sort of silly game that Paul warned about when he said to avoid petty arguments.

People matter to God and therefore they should matter to us – every bit of them from the salvation of their souls to the meeting of material needs (see 1 John 4:20-21).

Justice is rooted in the character of God, commanded in his Holy Scriptures and exemplified in the life of Christ and the history of the church.

Justice is the right ordering of our relationships with God and neighbor.

Justice, in all spheres and slices of life and especially in the social sectors, is biblical, God-honoring and right. Politics, theories or political platforms, however, are open to dispute and disagreement.

Let’s keep the means and ends from being confused on this one.

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A pretty God-filled week for me. God continues to reassure me in all I do. He blesses me so much with my Bible studies and the people he puts in my life. He continues to provide for me.
I had a fun week with the boys. Its been great having things back to normal with them. We saw Iron Man. I’m a huge sucker for summer action movies. Its fun when you have boys to go see them. They are wrapping up school and I’m now in the process of planning out my summer with them. We have lots of camping trips and California trips in the works.
We started to read Daniel in my men’s group. Its been great so far. I love reading about the faith that Daniel and his companions have in God. So encouraging. We have it made when it comes to persecution for our faith compared to back then. Pastor Royce gave a message on spiritual warefare the next night. It was an amazing message. I am sad that the Mine is ending for a break soon. I started a study on Discovering God’s Will in my Lifegroup. I’m very excited for it! Then I heard a message from Ron Habermas the following night. Probably one of the top Christian theologians of our time.
I did some volunteer work at Liberty House Saturday for our Second Saturday event. I love the heart of the people that come out for this. Crossroads Youth Intervention is such an amazing ministry. They take in intercity kids from the surrounding neighborhood (very dark and violent) and give them a safe place to hang out. They tutor them and share the love of Jesus at the same time. They even take them on camping trips over the summer as well. My good friend Mike Bhatti has been doing amaing stuff there as an intern.
I took my mom out for breakfast Sunday morning for mother’s day. My mom has been good to me. She lets me vent when I need to and helps me finanially during tough times when I need it. She has helped a lot in helping me raise my kids when I need a night off. She kept me in church as a child. It was that planted seed that brought me back to Christ recently. I appreciate her.
World Vision was at the church later that day. I’m a huge supporter of them. World Vision is making a difference in the world. I have been supporting their ministry in Uganda for some time. My heart goes out to the people who work for them and what God is doing in the world through them.
My very good friend Rob got baptized Sunday as well. Love that guy. A man who admits his struggles and just has a heart and passion for Christ. He got baptized with his sister. Just an all around encouraging moment for me.
I started a new group outside of church for some men at church that afternoon. Its just a purity group for men who have been through divorce. My hope is that some of these guys will take their situations and become better men of God through it. I had a good turn out for it and I look forward to meeting these guys every month.
That evening was my last Sunday teaching 4th grade Sunday school. I’ve been blessed to do that for 2 years now. It was the first ministry I signed up for after turning my life over to Christ. I will miss those kids. I am apppreciative of the staff for believing in me and allowing me to do that. It has given me the passion to share the word to others.
I capped off my long attending Praxis church that evening. I’m really loving that church. I leave spiritually filled everytime. Pastor Justin is so passionate about the word. We just finished a series on 1 John. A pretty straight forward message to Christians on the Christian walk. I’m considering taking them up on their leadership program this summer.
So that’s what is up with me right now. Counseling sessions with da ex and da boyz this week. Praying to God that was right decsion on my part. But for the most part just going to relax and enjoy my week some friends. Hit me up…

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I went to the David Crowder/Third Day concert tonight at U.S. Airways with my friends Katie and Melissa. I was blown away by a video that was shown during a break in the show. Three guys went to Uganda to film a documentary there. They were shocked at what they saw. Children being captured and brainwashed into being child soldiers. To escape capture, these kids commuted from their homes in the middle of the night to a safe haven. Their video made its way onto the Internet and became known as Invisible Children. One of the band members of Third Day encouraged the audience to help support the cause to stop what is going on there. I was so struck by all of this that I stopped by the World Vision table and pledged to give to the cause. Check out the video below..

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