Walk in the Light

Some days when I read the news, my heart aches. The individuals in the stories become alive to me- their pain, fear, hopelessness, anger. It overwhelms me.

Today is one of those days, as I think on those being terrorized in Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Syria. For those who are experiencing the panic of untreatable illness in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. For the courageous women testifying about the sexual violence they experienced during the conflict days in Colombia. Closer to home, another round of research released about the correlation between irresponsible extraction and abuse. And always, so near to my heart, the stories of those living over 20 years of war in Democratic Republic of Congo.

It seems like the earth is groaning with suffering, with abuse and hatred and greed. My heart groans with it.

In times like this, I often wonder God, where are you?

Some days the answer is like a balm to my heart, and I cling to those passages like a person clinging to a life raft. “He knows the way that I take; and when I have been tested I will come forth as gold.” (job 23:10)

And sometimes there are flashes of goodness in the world around me, that remind me that God uses us- imperfect though we are- to bring his Kingdom to earth. And when we obey, when we do those small things that could be overlooked, but really mean so much, He smiles.

The courageous and inspirational peace activist, Leymah Gbowee said it so well. About her visit to DRC in February of this year, where she spent time speaking to survivors of sexual violence and hearing their stories she noted, “through all of the stories of rape and sexual violence, there was a beautiful middle line. That may sound impossible; the global narrative of DRC is that it is the rape capital of the world. I am not going to agree or disagree with this statement. But the authors of this statement failed to recognize the beautiful middle line of these women’s narratives; indeed, it takes trained ears to hear and identify with it. For too many of the women, each story started with “I was raped; I was in pain; I was upset and distraught…” But in the middle of their narrative, the beautiful is revealed: “…and then the women came; my sister came; my mother came; a women’s association heard and came…. They took me to a doctor; helped me with clothes; talked to me and then I regained strength… and now I am able to at least think about living again.” The beautiful line is how women, despite the pain and suffering, have an unshakeable sense of sisterhood and solidarity. Regardless of what the world calls DRC, I call it the “Capital of Sisterhood and Solidarity”.

Lets train our ears to the goodness, the beauty in the midst of the ashes- and continue to bring that beauty to those around us.

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” John 1:7

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Jesus and Activism

I have been following the IF:Gathering Equip series of bible study for the past little while (ladies, check it out, its rather awesome.) and daily I am challenged on applying scriptures to life and specifically how to live out the calling that is on me in a Christ-like way.

I suppose that brings us to a bit about me. I am an activist, specifically working with the rights of women and children in conflict zones and disarmament. Last September I was priviledged to intern with the amazing women at the Nobel Women’s Initiative and work on the Stop Rape in Conflict campaign.

In my day job I am in ministry as an administrator at my church.

These two things often feel as though they are in conflict with one another. I mean when people say that they are “blessed” because God gave them a fancier car/house/pair of shoes, I really struggle. As an intern I was reading stories from literally across the globe about sexual violence, domestic violence, human trafficking etc. It just didn’t, and still often doesn’t, make sense to me how God cares about a North American persons sales at the mall but doesn’t intervene to protect the six month old baby from violation. Like, what!? But I will talk more about that in another post.

The other thing is that often I encounter ways in which my own country perpetuates injustice- both globally and at home. It makes me FURIOUS. Like I can actually feel my temperature rising. And because I am soo angry, I say things. Harsh things. Factual things.

But words that speak facts are accepting the darkness where you see it. In Jesus I am called to speak prophetically- to speak life into situations where there is none. To pray into the dark places, those factual places. To take action in ways that I am able and part of that action is prayer.

BUT. here is the key. In Acts 23 Paul insults the High Priest of the temple not realising who he is. in verse 5, when the man’s position is pointed out to him Paul apologizes and reminds himself that he is not to speak evil of any of our rulers.

Now I don’t take that to mean that you should never question authority. I think that is taking the verse too far. What it actually says is that you are not to speak evil; ie. Insult, curse, denigrate or humiliate.

I would sum it up like this: If you are working to be a Peacemaker, to follow Christ’s example of loving ones enemies and blessing those who curse and praying for those in power, your words matterSpeaking violence through insults, mocking, cursing or speaking with hatred only breeds more bad things. The fruit of violent speech is darkness, chaos and disunity.

Instead today I challenge you, Jesus Activist, and myself to speak words of life over your leaders. Pray into the dark places. Take action to change policies that you feel are harmful through proper channels but remember to partner your actions with prayer and let Him guide you.

Ultimately it is not God’s heart for any person to suffer injustice. Let his heart for the world shape how you respond to it.