I was so thankful to participate in The Justice Conference simulcast a couple weekends ago. Like the previous year, my heart was broken, encouraged, and transformed as I listened to the speakers who shared their stories and the work of justice that God is doing all over the world. Let there be no doubt, pursuing justice is difficult. It often takes long-term commitments, sometimes with very little visible results and that can be discouraging. So why do it? Why pursue justice?
We pursue justice because of the countless passages that reminds us of God’s goodness, his righteousness, and his desire for justice for humankind and for his world. (I have shared several of these passages throughout this justice series.) We also pursue justice because at the end of the day, justice is about people.
Because the pursuit of justice is important and because there are so many injustices present in our day, it is quite easy to get overwhelmed, to burn out, or paralyze ourselves into doing nothing. You may think, “I cannot do everything.” That is indeed true. However, when we think about justice, one thing all of us can do is to know the issues or educate ourselves through credible resources.
Here are a few highlights of justice issues from this year’s conference:
- Inequality of Education in our Public School System:
Nicole Baker Fulgham is author of Educating all of God’s Children. She is also the Founder and President of the Expectations Project. She reminded us that education is the pathway out of poverty and if we want to have leaders for the next generation, we must provide a quality education for all children. Follow the conversation on Twitter @nicolebfulgham with the #hope4schools hashtag. And online at www.theexpectionsproject.org
- Mass Incarceration and Injustices in the American Criminal Justice System:
Bryan Stevenson, Founder & Director of the Equal Justice Initiative shared compelling stories of humanity about those working in the system and those striving on death row. He asked a compelling question, “Why do we want to kill all of the broken people?” I encourage you to view his Ted Talk on YouTube. Connect at @eji_org and www.eji.org.
- Conflict in the Middle East and other Issues across the World:
Many of us are ill informed on numerous globally issues. The highlights of our internet pages are filled with celebrity “news” and rarely on the important issues of the day. There are humanitarian, political, social and religious crisis going on all the time and whether we know it or not, those worldly issues directly or indirectly impact our lives. This panel consisted of experts from WorldRelief.org and WorldVision.org, and featured author, advocate, and World Vision Middle East Expert, Mae Cannon. Connect: www.maecannon.com
- Human Trafficking:
Justin Dillon is a musician and Founder/CEO of Made in a Free World at www.madeinafreeworld.com. He also directed and debuted the film “Call+Response.” There are 27million or more slaves in the world today and it is a business that keeps growing. However, this is a solvable problem. He reminded us of Mandela’s words, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Then he challenged us to invite people to join the justice movement and become solutionists rather than advocates. Check out www.enditmovement.com and Twitter hashtag: #EndItMovement.
- Immigration Reform:
Author of Welcoming the Stranger, Jenny Yang @JennyYangWR, is also the Director of Advocacy and Policy and World Relief’s Refugee and Immigration Program. She moderated a panel that included Jim Wallis, President & Founder of Sojourners and Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association. You can use the “search” option on this website to see evangelical voices share on the topic of “immigration” and why immigration must be done. Visit the Evangelical Immigration Table at www.evangelicalimmigrationtable.com.
- Injustices Against Women:
Pastor Eugene Cho spoke words that sent a chills up my spine, “There is no older injustice in this world than the injustice against women.” His words were affirmed to me again this weekend when the International Justice Mission keynote speaker at the human trafficking event that I hosted stated that gender violence is the number one cause of the death of women, more than several other major causes combined. When we see violence and injustices against women, we have a responsibility to take a stand. That action can literally be the difference between life and death. Follow @eugenecho @ijm @ijmcampaigns @bethanyhoang
These are not all of the issues that were raised at the conference. You can visit the conference website www.thejusticeconference.com for updates and view conference videos as they become available.
Now that we know, we can all pray about these issues. While praying, I encourage you to consider the words that Lynne Hybels @lynnehybels shared at the conference. Ask the Lord, “What is mine to do? What is the next step?” And then affirm those convictions in a safe community.
I also encourage you to start small. Commit to simple projects. From my professional project management training, there is a basic understanding in the difference between a project and a program. A project is a commitment that is made for a definite period of time. Projects have clear start and end dates. You may not be a person that wants to make a long-term commitment and that’s okay. Or you may simply want to get your feet wet and test the waters to see what you are really passionate about. That’s quite fine too. I encourage you to start justice work simply by praying and committing to a project. Author, Speaker, & Founder of the Mentoring Project, Donald Miller says, “Have a project that you are working for that is really important for other people.”
What are you living for? What keeps you up at night?
Why do you get out of bed in the morning? – Donald Miller @donaldmiller
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014