Chapter 7 of Gary Haugen’s Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian tells stories of “charging the darkness.”
The chapter begins with a bed-time ritual with Haugen and his children. At a certain age, they became afraid to enter their rooms because the “room [was] scary.” Probing further, the reason was simply because it was dark. (My older daughter–two years old yesterday–has a fascination at present with darkness and light–loves turning the light switch on and off to see what it looks like.) The way he discovered to get them to enter their dark rooms and go to bed was to “charge the darkness,” running in himself so they could see someone come out alive after having entered that scary place.
Haugen observes (rightly, I must confess to believe) that we are the children, staring at the places of injustice and oppression but failing to charge the darkness. Perhaps this is why we busy ourselves and are thus never “able” to do much of consequence to help? Perhaps we need to see someone else charge in first. So, to that end, Haugen offers three persons whose stories can embolden us in our journey to courage.
William Sheppard was an African-American Presbyterian missionary who went to Africa (he was also the son of freed slaves) during the latter part of the 19th century and worked against injustice perpetrated on the Congolese by Belgian rulers.
Donaldina Cameron was a contemporary of Sheppard who, beginning as a Presbyterian missionary intern, found herself working on behalf of Chinese girls trapped and brutalized by the sex trade in San Francisco throughout her life, conducting many nighttime raids to free the young slave girls.
Irena Sendlarona was a young Polish Catholic who used her social welfare post to smuggle Jewish children to safety from the local Nazi camps during the 1940s.
Each of these endured suffering for the sake of the cause they took up. The darkness they charged was indeed scary, and exacted its toll. But they lived to see their efforts rewarded and outlived their enemies.
Haugen’s shares that he has seen inspiring testimonies along this exact theme in his work with his co-workers at IJM in the ten years since its founding. Scary, to be sure. But more than a little invigorating, isn’t it? That such evil and injustice is being confronted, unmasked, and nullified in the lives of many? What darkness might we be called to charge?