In the previous post, I began a look at chapter 3 in Gary Haugen’s Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian. In the first part of the chapter, Haugen challenges us to take up the call of God to “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17) for those in greatest need. He asserts that this is the “surprising path to courage” for a church that is, well, bored and uncourageous…but restless, aware there is something more.
This path to courage via seeking God’s justice leads us into a confrontation with violence: “Rather than run from such ugliness, Christians have to actually go looking for it” (p. 51). Haugen describes why violence is different from the other large-scale problems in the world today, even though they are “worthy of our urgent attention” (p. 50): “Violence is intentional. Violence is scary. And violence causes deep scars.” In the pages following, he presses each point further. Violence is intentional. Women and children trapped in a brothel are there because violent people intentionally trapped them and intentionally victimize them. Violence is scary because it fights back when opposed. Hunger, for example, does not attack those who seek to eradicate it. But violence does. Finally, the deep scars of violence are so multi-dimensional. When the physical scars heal, the psychological ones remain.
The secrets of violence that Haugen and his colleagues at IJM have learned over the past few years touch on how to address the issues discussed above. First, “those who prey on the poor are not brave” (p. 54). Second, “most fundamentally the predators are afraid of the truth” (p. 55), and third, “the oppressors of the poor are afraid of going to jail” (p. 57).
The Christian response to this sort of violence is compelling. Reflecting on Jesus’ words, “perfect love casts out fear,” Haugen tells of an IJM colleague who, in response to enduring violence himself while working to free modern-day slaves from their owners, had this to say: “When it happened to me, now I could feel it, I could feel the pain they must have every day. I want to help them even more. You can see their lives changed. When you see people changed, that is why I am not afraid to do what I do, even though I know the risks” (p. 58).
This is indeed “just courage.” This is conviction for us.