Archives for category: justice

Anyone who has been in full-time vocational ministry in a church setting will know firsthand the knife’s edge of burnout and disillusionment.

In some ways, we respond to God’s call because we are open-hearted to his purposes, but it is that very open-heartedness that can leave us wounded, jaded, and burned out.

I am grateful that God, in His grace and wisdom, opened my eyes to see that pastoral work is about a whole lot more than preaching in front of big crowds very early in my ministry life. It’s certainly not wrong to have big dreams for God; we just need to be careful how we define “big” or “important” in the Kingdom.

One of my most powerful moments of “re-conversion” came as I dug into Scripture and saw God’s passionate heart for justice. Not the flavor-of-the-month activism that fills your social media stream, but the kind God declares in Amos 5:24:

Let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

This awakening to justice breathed new life into my relationship with Jesus and my heart to serve God and others.

The Gospel encompasses personal righteousness, but never at the exclusion of compassion or justice for others. The fullness of God’s Shalom, where Christ rules and reigns as King, leads to the flourishing of all people as God renews all of creation. Followers of Jesus are invited to participate in that mission of restoration and redemption, through our words, actions, relationships, and stewardship.

Way back in 2009, I heard the origin of the One Day’s Wages story at the very first Idea Camp (created, curated & hosted by Charles Lee).  There, I heard Eugene Cho tell the story of how his family, on a very ordinary pastor’s salary, had committed $100,000 toward the fight against global poverty. I marveled as Eugene shared, “We’re not asking people to do anything we’re not willing to do.”

From their very real personal sacrifice and leadership, ODW has become a powerful force for good, “a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” I am thankful for ODW’s partnership with Justice Ventures International, on whose Advisory Board I serve.

I have eagerly anticipated Eugene’s book, Overrated and, though painful to read at times (because of the level of self-reflection it requires), I highly commend this book to others.

A quick heads-up, though. Eugene is not passing out trophies to everyone just for showing up. He asks himself, and all of us — particularly in this age of celebrity causes and slacktivism — one sharp, insightful question:

Are you more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?

I appreciated Eugene’s pastoral reflection on justice as discipleship:

A gospel that not only saves but also serves;
A gospel that not only saves but seeks to restore all things back unto the one that ushered forth all that is good and beautiful;
A gospel that not only saves but ushers in the Kingdom of God;
A gospel that not only saves but restores the dignity of humanity — even in the midst of our brokenness and depravity.
This gospel is not just for us. The gospel is good news for all.

Eugene shares with honesty, humor, and grace. As a local pastor in Seattle, Eugene is keenly aware that justice is not about jumping on some kind of bandwagon. That sort of activism leads to burnout. However, when our eyes our opened to see God’s heart of and for justice, we are transformed in the process:

We need to pursue justice not just because the world is broken, but because we’re broken too. Pursuing justice helps us put our own lives in order. Perhaps this is what God intended — that in doing His work serving others, we discover more of His character and are changed ourselves.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” And, in the interest of full disclosure, I also purchased a copy of this book because I believe its message is that important. 

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I returned recently from my second trip with Living Water International to Nicaragua to help bring clean water to a community in need. It is so humbling to be a small part of what God is doing there to demonstrate His love & care for the world.

Jorge, the team leader in Rivas, Nicaragua, told us a heartbreaking story about the reality of the water crisis. Recently, after completing a well, an elderly man from the village told Jorge he was very grateful, but that the well was two years too late. Jorge found out that the man’s wife had died two years earlier from water-related disease.

As a friend from our church community shared in his testimony this past Sunday, as we spent the week in the mud, digging and drilling for clean water, we could sense God saying to our new friends there that He has not abandoned them.  Despite the staggering statistics (almost 800 million without access to clean water, over 2 million water-related deaths each year), we know that God has not given up — and neither have we!

When the church answers the call to action, being willing to get our hands dirty so that others can live, our living sacrifice paves the way for the Living Water of Christ to flow.

Learn more about LWI’s work here:

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This post is the third in a series about our church community’s recent trip to India in partnership with Justice Ventures International.

I’m not sure if was the heat/humidity double-punch combo, the growing realization that injustice permeated so many levels of culture around us or, perhaps, the jetlag playing catch-up with me, but my first thought when arriving in Kolkata was, Can we go back to Chennai?

While Chennai is a massive city in its own right, the humanity stacked upon itself throughout Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) can make it seem like a small town in comparison.


In Business for Freedom

Our team had the privilege of working with Freeset for a couple of days while in Kolkata.

Read the rest of this entry »

This post is the second in a series about our church community’s recent trip to India in partnership with Justice Ventures International.

The first city our team visited was Chennai, India’s fourth-largest city with a population between eight and nine million people. As a board member with JVI, it was a great joy to be able to visit the staff in Chennai personally and see the office in which they work.


Slavery Today

While in Chennai, we had the incredible privilege of visiting a village of former bonded slaves who had been freed, in part, through the work of JVI. We might imagine slavery as history, something we read about in school from which we’ve moved on. The brutal reality, though, is that there are millions of people enslaved today. Read the rest of this entry »

I just returned from visiting three cities across India in ten days with a team from my church community here in San Diego in partnership with Justice Ventures International, on whose board I serve. Putting into words all that we saw and experienced is extraordinarily difficult — in each city we visited, each day felt packed with a week, and the overall impression was a sort of “everything all at once.”

In this series of posts, I’ll share a bit about what we did, but more importantly, highlight people and organizations on the ground who refuse to be overwhelmed by the evil of slavery and human trafficking but, rather, hold fast to hope and continue to fight on behalf of those being crushed under the weight of sin.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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