Day Two of the Justice Conference

 “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 Today was another session packed day, with amazing speakers.  Any summary we give is really incomplete compared to what the speakers shared, but we hope it will give you a sense of some of the messages.

The first speaker was Eugene Cho, lead pastor of a church in Seattle, Washington and co-founder of One Day’s Wages (http://www.onedayswages.org/)  Eugene encouraged us to look at justice though the lens of God so that it doesn’t get elevated above God and become idolatrous.  He also shared that many Christians say they love justice and compassion, but there is always a cost to justice that can be messy and laborious.  We must be tenacious in our work and be honest about how hard it can be.  People aren’t needed for just the short run, but for the marathon of justice.  He also encouraged us to shut up, listen, pray and fast.  We are in a quick fix culture but we need to carve our time to make sure our pursuit of God informs our pursuit of justice and not the other way around.

The next speaker was Gary Haugen, President of IJM.  Many of us are familiar with the work of IJM, but if you aren’t you can visit their website at www.ijm.org.  Gary shared that he feels the church is waking up from a 100 year justice slumber, and we can ignore the awakening or we can say “hallelujah” and get on with it.  We can help the body of Christ to persevere in pursuing justice.  It takes a long obedience.  He encouraged us to think about what historians might say about this season and whether the church made an impact in the world or if there was no impact because of a lack of perseverance.  He final statement was a challenge to us all to be in pray about these issues.  “Why would we do God’s work without talking to God.”

Continuing on in the day, we were privileged to hear from Stephan Bauman, President of World Relief, and Cyprien Nkiriyumwami, Director of World Relief in Africa.  Cyprien is originally from Congo and shared some of his thoughts on the gender-based violence in that war-ravaged country.  In Congo, women are seen as the heart of the household, and by using rape as a weapon, soldiers are tearing the heart out of the household.  Cyprien shared about some of the work of World Relief in bringing churches in Congo together as village peace communities to care for rape victims and to bring justice to communities.  Standing together we are stronger and will accomplish miracles.

Sheryl WuDunn and Belinda Bauman.

Sheryl WuDunn and Belinda Bauman.

The last session we went to (sorry, we didn’t get to them all) was hearing from Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of “Half the Sky.”  Sheryl shared much of what is in her book, so instead of passing along an inadequate description, we encourage you to read her book.  However, her final thought is a challenge that we can all ask ourselves.  Sheryl reminded us that we all have won the lottery of life, just because of where we were born…. what is critical is what we do with that responsibility.

If you are looking for what to do with that responsibility, please consider volunteering with HopeSprings (www.hopesprings.org).  There are also internship and volunteer opportunities with World Relief (www.worldrelief.org.)

Next year’s Justice Conference will be in Los Angeles.  It will be much harder for people to go, but we will be working to have a site in Baltimore to view the simulcast.  No details yet, but it will be well worth your time, so keep it in the back of your mind for a year from now.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.