Christians: Make the Goodness of God Believable (video)

Post a Comment » Written on February 11th, 2009     
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CHICAGO, IL (February 11, 2009) – The most difficult thing for millions of suffering people in the world to believe is “the idea that God is good,” said Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission (IJM), when he addressed Evangelical Covenant Church ministers during the Midwinter Pastors Conference last week.

Haugen told stories of individuals, including a Burmese teenager named Elizabeth, who had been sold into slavery. “How is Elizabeth—really how are all these other children—supposed to find it believable that God is good?”

Haugen, who founded IJM in 1997, has a long history of working with human rights groups to bring justice and witness to the goodness of God. In 1994 he was the officer in charge of the U.N.’s genocide investigation in Rwanda when he directed an international team of lawyers, criminal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and forensics experts in gathering evidence against the perpetrators of genocide in that country.

IJM is a partner in the Break the Chains initiative sponsored by the Evangelical Covenant Church Department of Women Ministries.

Haugen asked, “What is God’s plan for making it believable that he is good for those who are suffering so much in our world?” Then he answered, “We are the plan; God has no other plan.”

Becoming the living answers to that question is an opportunity for Christians to be lights in the world.

Being bold enough to live the adventure can be difficult, Haugen acknowledged. He compared the hesitancy many Christians feel to the fear he experienced during a vacation when he was 10 years old.

Haugen’s father brought him and his two older brothers to Mt. Rainier, where they planned to climb to the summit. Haugen was afraid of the challenge, however, and chose to spend the day in the visitors’ center instead.

At first, Haugen was satisfied to enjoy the safety and exhibits in the center. But as the day wore on he recalled, “I started to feel bored, sleepy, and small, and I missed my dad.”

Later, his father and brothers returned, brimming with excitement after reaching the peak. “They had stories—stories of an unforgettable day with their dad,” said Haugen, “Truth is, I went on the trip but I missed the adventure.”

Haugen said he understands that people often feel powerless to act under the weight of statistics and seemingly overwhelming odds. But he challenged the audience not to live in the “paralysis of despair.”

Through a humorous re-telling of the feeding of the 5,000, Haugen emphasized that Jesus asks his disciples to bring what little they had and let him do the miracle.

Haugen shared how offering the little we have has helped IJM free slaves, including Elizabeth, who did not give up hope. While in the brothel, she scrawled the words from Psalm 27:1-3 on the wall of her cell-like room where she was enslaved.

“My question for us,” Haugen asked, “is that if Elizabeth could have such faith in the darkness of room number 5, really, who are we to sit in the paralysis of despair?”

Christians, Haugen reminded the audience, have led the fight in this country against slavery and other injustices such as child prostitution, child labor, and abuse of women.

“God intends that we find hope, not only in the way he uses us to rescue individual people, but the way he actually uses his people to change history.”

Haugen closed by encouraging the ministers to write their political representatives and call on them to act on the issue. He added that resource materials are available for their churches to use, even though the subject matter can be difficult. Churches also can invite an IJM representative to come speak to their congregations.

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