Apathy is my giant.

“For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong…” Isaiah 61:8

Studying justice and injustice is generally exhausting; it drains me emotionally. I am thankful justice ultimately belongs to God, that He sustains me as I seek to serve Him in this, and that He is my source of emotional and physical strength.

As I am meandering through the process of finishing school, I still don’t have clear direction on the specifics of how I will be doing justice in a greater capacity once I graduate. My mind goes in so many directions: will I be freelance writing for different relief groups? Will I be working full time in a communications department for an organization that does justice globally (or locally)? I simply do not know. Here is what I do know:

I wrestle with how our culture so often ignores (and often even promotes) injustice. Apathy toward injustice is the giant I feel I am facing in the calling of God’s will on my life. I’m not making a blanket statement saying our entire society is apathetic toward injustice, please don’t get me wrong. I know many, many people work hard every day and give their lives to different causes that better the whole of humanity and promote the Kingdom. What I struggle with is a very specific group of individuals in our society – both inside and outside of the Church.

Ken Wytsma of Antioch Church said something similar to the following at the Justice Conference last weekend:

What stops us from doing what we ought to do is guilt, for we are so overwhelmed by the golden rule that it paralyzes us into apathy. Therefore, most of us slip into something more along the lines of a “silver rule” which says, “Do not unto others what you do not want done to yourself.” The silver rule removes our responsibility to do unto others and allows us to passively live a “good life.” We then begin to accept that we cannot change the world and decide to instead do nothing…we must begin to understand that we cannot fully fix the world, but that we can do things to change it.

Those swimming in the eddies of apathy are the individuals I want to speak to. These are the individuals I believe have much purpose and ability to do great things. My question is, how might I strike the core of their hearts and give them courage and promote a desire to act on behalf of the oppressed?

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Worth

Worth: an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone.

Worth. How do you define worth? In yourself? In your life? In another human being?

Something in my life shifted – and I remember the exact moment – when I learned the invaluable lesson regarding the worth of another human being. Suddenly my life was no longer about me. Suddenly I realized I had to give some of my dreams away (trusting they would come back around somehow) in order to pursue the truth of this new understanding. I couldn’t just sit back and allow life to happen, I couldn’t just pursue my own goals, I now felt the excitement of helping pursue dreams that belonged to others, dreams I don’t know, dreams that haven’t even been birthed.

To those of you that were willing and able to participate in my last post, thank you. Whether you realize it or not, you have justice in you. You have love. You have decided that someone outside of yourself has worth. That is beautiful. Thank you, whoever you were, for the amazing help that you gave. It matters.

To those of you still seeking ways to get involved with something, here’s a thought:

Recently I joined a program through Women for Women International which assists women in war-torn regions with financial aid, job training as well as educates her about her rights and her worth. I’m still waiting for her name (it takes about a month), but I’m already praying for her. A couple of rad things about this program for the sponsors:

1. You get to choose the country of the woman you sponsor. Maybe that seems a little superficial, but think of it this way: if you have a heart for women in Afghanistan, God has placed that specific compassion there for a reason. Through the specificity of this part of the program you have the opportunity to ACT on what God has begun in you. And really, if we all do justice for the sole reason of feeling like we SHOULD (and sometimes that is appropriate), the authenticity and beauty dissipates – or it is never there in the first place. There’s something to be said for a calling on your heart. Think about that.

2. You have the ability to interact with her. It’s an opportunity to cross oceans and cultural lines and many other barriers to tell her because of God you love and value her. You’re able to show that through your financial support as well as in the time you take to write to her. Admittedly, this part makes me the most nervous. I’m going to write a letter to a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Me. I will be writing her letters. A white, privileged woman who has never faced a tragedy even similar to hers…what in the world do I talk about? Well, that’s something I am sure God has all worked out.

Check out the website and let it simmer…or just do it.

Happy Friday, friends.

If you have the means…please help.

Hey all, just received this email from a friend who is headed to Congo Thursday to pick up their newly adopted son.

There is a collection bin at the Antioch Church offices until 2:00 PM today, April 7th. If you have additional baby formula or a few moments to drop by some spare cash you may have please do so.

376 SW Bluff Drive, Suite 8
Bend, OR 97702

—-

I want to apologize for the short notice, but Kristen and I just got off the phone with our lawyer concerning our trip to the DRC this Thursday. Briefly, Kristen and I will be traveling to the DRC (Kinshasa) to pick up our newly adopted son, Bonheur, this week. Our lawyer informed us of a recent crisis within three orphanages that has just developed.

Apparently, there has been a recent formula shortage within Kinshasa, driving the price of formula up to astronomical prices. As a result, the infants of these orphanages are being fed with water and a spoonful of sugar. Many of the children are not expected to survive. Our itinerary is being altered so that we will be able to deliver formula and food bought at a local market to these three inter-city orphanages, one of which is solely for infants with AIDS.

If there is anything that could be done to get the word out to the Antioch body, it would be much appreciated. Kristen and I will be going to Costco this Wednesday to buy as much formula as our luggage will carry; any additional money will be spent at a local market in Kinshasa to buy food for the orphanages next week.

It is comforting to know that formula and money for basic food necessities will be in the hands of their caretakers within a week.

Cameron

flurry

something’s amiss
it’s simply out of order
even my fingers lay
listless on the keys
if they were to move
I worry they may be
brittle and crumble
for what’s amiss
is deep in my soul
and that soul is
deeply connected
to every word that
escapes me no matter
the form, whether
spoken or written
or typed or sang
or whispered –
even thought of
I often feel lost in
who I want to be or who
I think I’m meant to be
and when lost I tend
to drift along hoping
for a flurry of the soul
for here I am
bewildered and left
to fend questions I
do not have answers to
and lost I find I’m
asked to hold a brave face
to appear indifferent
for emotion mixed with
confusion is surely
an uncommon taboo
and why oh why would
you possibly feel lost
in a world where you are
fortunate to have
access to anything simply
to make your dreams
come alive
and yet…
and yet I’m often lost
in who I want to be or who
I think I’m meant to be
and for now I’m out to see
if there’s anything alive
inside of me and I will
drift along until I find
a flurry in my soul
that speaks deep truth
and love and justice
and mercy and understanding
and all of those things
our souls seem to gravitate
toward for somewhere
we must know truth
for it is built into the
unswerving beat of our hearts.

When I started school last fall I had just a smidgen of direction. I wondered how long it would take before things began narrowing into what I really felt like God wanted me to do with such a fancy little piece of paper. I’m sure as heck not doing it for the “oohs” and “ahhs” (or even the “what the heck does that degree even mean?”). I’m doing it because I’m passionate about justice. I’m passionate about doing justice through communication. I’m passionate about doing justice through my love of writing. That, I believe, is God’s beautiful gift to me.

Of course through this season of discovering this passion of mine I feel a little part of me has died. Amidst the research I’ve been doing about injustice, the stories I’ve heard, the documentaries I’ve watched, and even reading some parts of the bible I’ve found my outlook on this world has dimmed. Honestly? It’s probably for the best.

…But I miss the part of me that was unwaveringly optimistic. I miss the part of me that would wake up and never lack hope or faith in what this world could be (but never will be). That part of me, however, has been replaced with a firm belief that eventually, justice will be had. Eventually my life will have fulfilled a purpose greater than I can imagine – not because I want to be great, but because I want injustice to cease. I want justice for the woman who’s been raped and birthed a child that will every.damn.day remind her of a horror she lives. I want justice for her child who will quite possibly be neglected and unloved for the sheer fact that he or she exists. I want justice for the little girl and woman that’s beaten and drugged and “broken in” to become a prostitute and trafficked around the globe without even a glimmer of hope. I want justice for the slave. I want justice for the oppressed. These people have names and faces and horrific stories…somehow, some way, we must hear them and allow them resonate in our souls that we may do something to help.

No, I cannot fix everything. No, I may not be able to fix anything. Ever. That I understand. I cry for that. However, I will do what I can do and that is write, speak, educate, empower. I know now after a few months of even deeper searching and research that my field has narrowed – even slightly – to women. I don’t know what that means. God does. I can rest in that. I also know that doing justice permeates the whole of my life. It is finishing a degree. It is writing. It is this silly, unknown little blog. It is the book I am writing. It is the research that I pour over and cry about. It is the daily goings on. It is drawing near to God.

A note of thanks to my big sister – the one that’s known me the most consistently for the longest period of time in one particular place. Thank you for helping me see my soul and my heart in a beautiful, God-ordained way that I might have otherwise passed by. You are a gem (more than the server at the bar who poured us delicious beers…so much more). Love.

Unending, really? Really.

I have been on this justice kick for a while now. I’ve been reading books, scouring the bible, and educating myself on current social justice issues around the globe. It is clear to me that God is a God of justice.

During this time I have found my prayers circling this basic thought process that God is someone to be reckoned with, that I am to strive with Him, pleading for justice and change and true love and truth to rise up amidst hopelessness and the terrors of our day. As much as persistent prayer is biblical, I felt like my prayers and my motives were lacking something. Something was missing somewhere on my radar and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

It wasn’t until a conversation over a beer in a crowded restaurant the other night that it dawned on me via the insight and wisdom from a very dear friend. Carrie is one of the people in my life that shares this passion for social and biblical justice. And because she’s been at this longer than I have I am thankful to the bottom of my heart to have her in my life to help guide me.

As we sipped on our beers, we were marveling at the sermons at church as of late and feeling grateful that truth is being spoken in regards to love and justice (see my last post). As we talked, Carrie brought up a book that she had recently read and a point the author made that turned our conversation upside down for a bit.

The thought was this: unless you fully understand and set your foundation on how much God ACTUALLY loves YOU as an individual (through the gift of Christ’s example and sacrifice), you cannot genuinely love others nor can you be effective in doing justice. At least not for very long.

This is not to say that those doing justice who do not know God cannot do any good, but those who do not rest on His foundation and purpose to know His love personally will not be able to last in fervor of service and pure motive. Their “cup” will run out because it is not being continually filled and nourished with God’s love in order that love flows out of their life to properly “do justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s cause”. (And sorry to use such an overused “Christian-y” metaphor, it drives me nuts, but the “cup” makes sense.)

We – at least for Carrie and I – have always heard as we grew up in the church that if you love God, you must love others. But it seems natural and biblical that we should know He first loved us. Unless we know with full assurance and seek out how much God loves us, where will our motives come from? And how quickly will our perseverance run out if we are not resting on that love?

This is hard for me to grasp in some ways because I see many American Christians who take, take, take, receive, receive, receive, and horde, horde, horde. It seems it’s therapeutic to be a Christian for so many. It fulfills this surface need to believe in something, gives us hope, forgives our sins and makes us feel like we’re a better person for being “religious” or by having “faith”. However, in this need to fulfill self we have forgotten to turn around and genuinely give the grace so lavished upon us to our fellow man in need – whether it is spiritual or physical. When I began to notice what was happening around me I felt my own heart go to the extreme of give, give, give. Give your heart, your life, your excess, give out of no excess by faith…and I forgot to continue truly receiving God’s love as my source and ability to give and do justice. I felt guilty, I kid you not, for reading Psalms as a means to draw closer to God. It may sound asinine, but it’s true.

A matter of months ago I began to feel guilty for accepting this love and for feeling so good about God’s grace and love toward me when I constantly have thoughts in the back of my mind about injustice and the suffering of others in this world. However, it seems I went to the other extreme, one which would lead me down a dead end road of complete exhaustion and more than likely bitterness and hopelessness.

It seems to me that my prayers will shift in content and direction just a few degrees now. The time I spend reading the bible will begin to contain a little bit more reading so that I begin to seek God’s love not only for others, but also for my own heart. Because God’s love is unending, and that is the foundation upon which I need to stand.

The Spirit of Life

I have been processing and contemplating numerous things these past few weeks. Jesus-Love. Dangerous living. Sacrifice. Right and wrong religion. Justice. Love. Heartache. Social norms and expectations. Coffee. (OK, maybe not coffee, but because I’m sipping coffee at this moment, I figured I’d throw it in there.)

Since my announcement to close the doors on my company I’ve felt free. Free to pursue what I feel is the absolute passion that lies in the deepest part of my soul. My direction and efforts no longer feel like a means to an end. I haven’t been able to fall asleep at night because my mind is racing excitedly about the adventure that lies ahead. I think about advocacy, and justice, and Jesus, and love, and what in the world should love look like? What does God want those things to look like (in my life, in the church)? Who is the real Jesus? I’m talking about the one in the bible, not the one the recent culture of the American “church” has made Him out to be (because for the most part we’ve done a terrible job at knowing Him and following His example).

Last week I listened to this sermon (entitled: Love as Dogma, November 22, 2009 – um, as well as the week prior by Ed Underwood, amazing), and I simply burned with passion. Tears flowed uncontrollably out of my eyes because we, the church, have lost sight of the beauty of Jesus and His humble example for us. We don’t know who He is anymore. We don’t know how to follow Him anymore because tradition and our own desires and comfort have gotten in the way. That breaks my heart; I walk around with a nearly consuming sadness inside of me because of that. Really, there are no words to describe it to you properly. I challenge you to take the time and listen to that message.

“Love as Dogma” was yet another defining moment in my pursuit of justice and how I will be able to make an impact in this world for the glory of God. I realized that my life may not consist of being a full time missionary overseas. I still envision my life being dangerous. I still envision going to the places that nobody else wants to go. I still long to meet and love on and provide for those that most everybody else has forgotten about. I want to ask the hard questions in search for the difficult answers. And most importantly, I want to carry their voices to the place that they are scarcely heard: to the United States. That is my passion. I beg you to seek for yours if you haven’t found it already.

My heart longs for us to take Jesus for who He actually is and to live love and justice. I want us to question why it is we go to church every day in order that we may actually be the buzz word of our generation: authentic. I want us to question the hurt in this world and to not be overwhelmed at the answer: that we are a part of the problem, and that we can also be a part of the solution. I want us to not be overwhelmed and to simply realize that we, each and every one of us, are created to do something related to biblical justice: whether it is in our immediate sphere of influence and our community, or if it is a radical life comparable to of one of the greats that went before us (Locke, Gandhi, Mandela…).

Let us take courage. Let us ask the hard questions. Let us follow our passions with great fervor. Let us live like we believe our convictions, and let us live that in real love, in Jesus-love.

Exhale of Joy

Do you ever wake up from a night of silent, dreamless sleep, and there’s nothing you can do except smile as you prepare for the day? You feel an overwhelming sense of peace, a rightness in the world that scarcely makes itself known, a silent rhythm of perseverance.

I had that morning. It lingers. I am exhaling joy.

Granted, there is a story behind this that begs telling.

Justice has been served. In a world teeming with corruption and malice where horrific acts take place more often than we care to ponder; one case of injustice will be set right, at least in the eyes of the law. Words can scarcely make an appeal to my elation. A little girl and her brother will (hopefully) never again be molested. They now have the chance to heal, to make a clean break, and I pray to God that they are given the fullness of that opportunity. Innocence was ripped away without permission and smothered as if it didn’t matter. It was concealed and denied. And now the oppressor faces his due punishment, for that I am thankful.

So much is affected by injustice. There is so much to consider. Injustice is not only an act, it is not only a series of: injustice, investigation, justice served. Injustice lingers. It follows lives to their end like a black cloud and sometimes lingers over the following generation of those originally affected. This breaks my heart more than I can elude to on a blog. I simply cannot begin to try.

And when I cannot find the words to speak, to tell a story, I will pen a poem in hopes that some expression will come from my heart that sends the message I intend. For my friend Michelle and all of her courage:

Magnificent is the beat of the heart of Justice
Riding in stronger than the armies of old
Wielding a sharper sword and farther reaching weapons
Than any injustice could imagine
As they creep and hide and commit their crimes
Denying and conspiring that Justice is not great enough
In the darkest corners it ruins and smothers and sabotages
Innocence and rights are laid waste
and left to suffer silently, endlessly, without hope
Until Justice makes a fool of its powerless enemy
By lighting the concealed atrocities and
Ripping apart the haughty enemy
To give due diligence and freedom
healing and hope
to the victims and to the wounded
To sound the song of victory
Making known the all-consuming power
of Justice at its best
A foretelling that injustice will never have the last word
And this time injustice has not seen impunity
It will not be the last
For Justice rides on in triumph