Church Responding to Global Injustice
With 36 million slaves in the world, 2 million women caught in sex trafficking, and corruption a common practice in many of the world’s court systems; it can be overwhelming for U.S. churches to look outside of themselves and care about global injustice.
But as followers of Jesus, we need to care about injustice in the world.
We are required by the Lord, in Micah 6:8 to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
Jesus tells the teachers of law in Matthew 23:23 that they have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.
And we are encouraged by the Apostle Paul to do good works, since we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10)
Justice Rooted in the Bible
At Transform Minnesota’s recent TCAMP forum on the Church’s Response to Global Injustice, we heard from churches in the Twin Cities who are actively doing justice. Larry Martin, the Director of Church Mobilization for International Justice Mission shared why it’s important for churches to have a biblical foundation before they run to do the work of justice.
“There is a post-modern notion amongst so many young people that doing justice work is cool, interesting and something that should be done,” said Martin. “It is hard work, it’s going to be a fight. If you don’t take the time to build a biblical foundation you will simply run out of gas.”
Pray First, Act Later
Bethany Hoang, Advisor to International Justice Mission also encouraged churches to STOP and pray, before they START.
“Justice starts with stopping. Stopping is what can take us to the God of justice. It doesn’t start with our ideas or our good intentions. It starts with knowing who this God is who loves justice, and knowing Him every single day in the fabric of our everyday lives,” said Hoang.
Hoang gave a goal of praying every day for 30 minutes about the Churches justice work, and injustice that is happening in the world.
“We all think we’re busy, we can think of a million reasons why we can’t stop, and yet the very first thing we need to do is stop, and pray,” she said.
Be Willing to Do the Hard Work
One of the injustices all too prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa is called widow land grabbing. Between 30-50% of widows who see their husbands die young, have their property stolen from them or the children who should inherit the land (Source: International Justice Mission).
An administrative group from Crossroads Church in Woodbury learned from IJM that all of the court records in one Ugandan village were so disheveled, heaping as high as the ceiling, that the court system couldn’t track which land belongs to which widow, making justice for widows and children nearly impossible.
“They had 50 years of court files that were filed up in an attic, that were completely inaccessible because they were stacked up, deteriorating, covered in bat and mouse droppings, full of bugs. Lawyers had said they had been unable to access anything because of the conditions that the files were in and the conditions of which they were stored,” said Elspeth Atkinson, a Crossroads Church staff member who went on the trip.
Long story short, people weren’t getting justice because of a bad filing system. In 2013, Crossroads Church sent a team to the local courthouses to organize 100,000 important records. Thanks to their tedious work, court cases can run smoothly, and thousands of widows in the area will have access to justice.
Larry Martin, of IJM, urges all churches to think creatively and resourcefully about how they can utilize their members’ time and skills during short-term missions’ trips.
“You ought to petition the courts and see where the court records are kept. I want to encourage you all to be a part of this friend-winning for Jesus work we get to do, by providing this kind of justice,” said Martin. Click here to read the full story of Crossroads Church’s short-term justice trip to Uganda.
Get Involved in What Is Already Happening
Rather than trying to muster up funding and support to start a brand new endeavor; find organizations that are already doing the Lord’s good work of justice, then join in.
Richard Payne, the Missions pastor for Wooddale Church says his church partners with local and global organizations.
Wooddale Church works with Source Ministries in Minneapolis to fight sex trafficking locally. Before they take any steps toward the issue, they start by praying over the issue, and building awareness among their congregation.
Mill City Church in Northeast Minneapolis also partners with Source Ministries, forming a group called “Captives Free.” They have been going on prayer walks, educating themselves on the business of human trafficking, and praying for the victims enslaved in it. Read how Mill City Church was also advocating the Minneapolis city council to shut down a massage parlor they believed to be engaging in human trafficking.
To help women trapped in sex trade in Calcutta, India; Wooddale Church supports a fair trade business called Freeset, that employs and empowers women who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Payne says prayer is the number one way they support Freeset. Wooddale also sells the products made by the rescued women in the church’s bookstore.
Find other churches with similar hearts for justice. Westwood Church, Christ Presbyterian Church, Grace Church and Wooddale Church are partnering together as a West Metro coalition, believing four churches are better together when fighting injustice.
“These four churches in the West Metro began feeling burdened by the spirit of injustice, and we decided to ban together and see what it means when the body of Christ comes together and goes at these issues,” said Paul Tshihamba, CPC Pastor of Missions.
These churches are holding a Twin Cities Justice weekend on May 14-16. They will be sending people to speak about justice at 12 churches in the Twin Cities. They are holding a concert with Sara Groves, Brandon Heath and Jenny and Tyler performing on Sunday May 15 at Grace Church. And on Monday May 16, the West Metro church coalition is holding a pastor and ministry leader breakfast at Wooddale Church. To get involve in the Twin Cities Justice weekend, contact Paul at CPC.