Archives for October 2012

10 Quotes about Forgiveness

Unforgiveness morphs people. It can literally alter the prism through which we view life, people, circumstances, and truth. It has the power to twist reality and make things or people appear to be different than they actually are. It stunts our creativity and dreams. It robs us of our joy and peace. It can restrict our thinking, harden hearts, ruin relationships, and diminish opportunities; all of which serve to punish us.

Chronic anger, resentment and unforgiveness cripple a person. They place us in mental and emotional strangleholds that keep us in neutral, disabling us from moving forward. We can become fixated with the past instead of living in the present and thinking about the future.

So, why would anyone intentionally hold on to something so destructive?  Many people are afraid to let go and forgive because they feel it might somehow erase the wrong that was done to them. If they forgive, they fear it will somehow diminish the wrong, or condone the hurtful behavior. It’s as if to say they are giving a pass to the perpetrator.

But that’s not what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is more about the wounded than the one who wounded. It is possible for us to choose to forgive wrongs even when the perpetrator doesn’t take responsibility and acknowledge their wrongdoing, or worse, isn’t even sorry. So how does that work?

It comes down to choice–something we do have control over. We choose to live our own life free from the bondage of unforgiveness. We choose to not allow the truth of the past (what happened to us), sabotage the truth about our future (the good things that lie ahead). We choose to free ourselves from the power of the one who wounded us. We choose to live in the face of reality. As if to say, “I’m going to live, and love, and move forward, despite what you did to me.

Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. -Corrie Ten Boom

We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising. -Maya Angelou

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. -Mother Teresa

Put anger aside. It is not a solution. Patience and love is a solution. With compassion and action, together we can end slavery. -Somaly Mam

No one can tell you how long to mourn a death or rage over a rape. But you can’t move forward until you break that chain -Leymah Gbowee

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world. -Marianne Williamson

We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all. -Dorothy Day

Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated. -Coretta King Scott

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass. -George Herbert

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. -Louis Smedes

Among those quoted are women who learned—who chose—to forgive the people that severely oppressed them and kept them in bondage. Whether shamelessly abused through sexual slavery, oppressed simply because of their gender or skin color, or as a concentration camp victim-survivor, they overcame because they forgave.

What have you found to be helpful in your own journey to forgive, and to set yourself free?

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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The Just Church: An Interview with Author and Abolitionist Jim Martin

International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Jim Martin is the author of IJM’s new book, The Just Church.  As vice president of church mobilization his firsthand experience helps equip and enable churches to understand justice issues and learn how to take action against violence and oppression worldwide.  

“Why is it that the glaring global justice issues of our day—issues such as sex trafficking, modern slavery, illegal property seizure and sexual assault—are so seldom addressed in our churches?” -Jim Martin

Join me as we discuss The Just Church with author and abolitionist, Jim Martin:

Would you please share what prompted you to write The Just Church, and what your main objective was in writing the book at this time?

One day I had the realization that it was just a matter of time before I walked in to a bookstore and saw a book with the words “Justice” and “Church” in the title. Having been in ministry for eighteen years—ten of those as a pastor at a church passionate about justice, I realized I had a pretty specific perspective about what kind of book would be most helpful. I wanted to be sure that any book that encouraged churches to engage in justice in a hands-on way would make a strong connection between justice and discipleship rather than simply justice and mission. A few nanoseconds later I realized that, given IJM’s experience with churches over the last decade, we should write that book. I was just at the right place at the right time.

Although the church is clearly called to defend the oppressed, it hasn’t always been actively engaged in issues of violent oppression.  Why do you think that is?

Violence is simply different from most other challenges the church confronts. As IJM’s founder Gary Haugen says, “Victims of violence aren’t suffering from bad luck or bad weather,” nor are they suffering because they don’t have a healthy church they can attend. They are suffering because of the intentional abuse of someone else. As Ecclesiastes 4:1 puts it, the oppressed have “no one to comfort them.”  But “on the side of their oppressors, [is] power.” Confronting violent power is challenging. It produces feelings (such as fear) that can be uncomfortable.

If a church could do just one thing to begin an intentional process of moving toward being a more “just church” today, what would that be?

Reverse the spiral of isolation. That is to say, so many churches in the US (and in other more “developed” parts of the world) struggle with isolation. If we are isolated enough as to be largely unaware of injustice-related suffering altogether, then this lack of awareness will actually affect how they read the Scriptures. Because we don’t see this kind of suffering in the world, we don’t notice when we are reading about it in the Scriptures. Not noticing it in the Scriptures, we are not compelled to see it in the world. And the spiral accelerates. We need to reverse the spiral by taking a careful look at the Scriptures for their call to engage injustice in the world. And we need to take a hard look at the world to see the kind of suffering experienced by our neighbors. Having done that, I have little doubt that the God of justice will move us to action.

What have you found to be most effective in moving people from the sidelines of awareness, to the field, so-to-speak–from apathy to action?

One word: Hope. Hope is like a secret weapon. The easiest mistake to make is to simply pound people with statistics and horror stories. But the harsh truth of the problem alone usually serves to produce anger or despair. Anger may produce short bursts of activity, but is not effective fuel for a long journey. Even worse, despair is like inertia—making it even harder for us to take action. But hope is different. Hope motivates, hope increases momentum. At IJM we talk about a ratio of 10 to 1. For every one part stark reality of oppression, you need to inject 10 parts of rescue, restoration and transformation-based hope.

What challenge would you issue to the church in terms of its impact in actually alleviating this kind of suffering in the first place?

Stories of rescue are both inspiring and hopeful. And rescue is utterly life-changing for survivors who are touched by that miracle. But isn’t our real hope that these children, women and men would never be victimized in the first place? As the global church awakens to this massive tragedy being perpetrated on our watch, its 2.2 billion members should form a transformational army that works to prevent the abuse of the vulnerable in the first place. 

In the book you say, “If we are risk averse, we will be faith poor.” What do you mean?

One of the central points in the first half of the book is the idea that faith is made up of two things: Belief and Trust. Most churches I’ve known are great at teaching belief. There are all kinds of resources out there that help us hone our understanding of what we believe about God. But most churches, including churches I’ve led, are not very good at teaching trust—simply because this is much more difficult to teach—and learn. Learning trust always involves risk. This is true in human relationships and it’s true in our relationship with God. As I have taken on appropriate risk and experienced God as faithful and sufficient in it, my trust has grown. Simply put the equation is Faith = Belief + Trust. If we are risk averse, we will be faith poor.

As you’ve engaged with churches, what have you found to be the biggest misconception about how justice and discipleship relate to each other?

I think the extent to which many believers think about justice at all, they think of it as a mission of the church—something that we ought to do for those poor vulnerable people out there who are victimized by others. I do think there’s some truth to that. But what I’ve found over a couple of decades of engagement, is that there simply is no better place for me to be stretched, no better place for me to be forced to rely on the miraculous goodness and grace of God, than in the work of justice. There are so few places where my faith is really tested, where my trust in God is so stretched. This is why the work of justice is some of the richest soil for discipleship I’ve ever known.

You speak about a type of maturity that has a “missional purpose.” Can you expound on this idea?

Sometimes in the church we think of spiritual maturity as simply an end in itself. But the scriptures are clear that God’s work to rescue and redeem us is not only because he loves us, but also because he has a purpose for our lives! We are invited, adopted into, the family of God so that we can join the family business—that is so that we can join God on his mission to planet earth. Our spiritual maturity is for this missional purpose.

You talk about the relevance of “failure points”. Would you describe this concept for people or churches that are passionate about the battle for justice in our time?

For me, this is one of the keys to growing faith. In the book I make the comparison to weight training. In order to strengthen muscles, many schools of weight training encourage us to push our muscles to the failure point—the point at which our muscles cease to function. This was something of an “aha!” for me. For a long time I’d been looking for a way to describe what happens when we faithfully follow God into difficult situations, especially those outside our normal experience. Sometimes in those situations I’ve had the experience of coming to the end of my faith—the place where I was no longer sure that God was actually sovereign. This was especially true the first several times I encountered victims of sexual violence and heard their stories. The stark reality of that kind of suffering was challenging to contemplate, not just emotionally, but theologically. It forced all kinds of questions about God’s sovereignty, God’s goodness. It was again and again in those places, that counter-intuitively that God would actually prove to be both sovereign and good. These experienced deepened my faith perhaps more than any others in my life.  

What if churches were more collaborative in the area of justice, in what ways might that immediately and positively impact communities?

One of the strategies we present in the second half of the book is the idea of churches doing a thorough “Community Justice Assessment.” (IJM has a tool, a guide for this that is available for free.) One excellent collaborative strategy is for several churches in the same area to work together on conducting this assessment. Together they become the experts on issues of violence in their communities as well as the gaps in service/opportunities for ministry that exist.  

The term “social justice” has become a common expression. Do you believe there is a difference between social justice and biblical justice?  Please Explain.

For those of us who take the scriptures seriously, there can be no doubt that God cares about justice. To quote scholar Christopher Wright (in his endorsement of The Just Church): Justice, “is something that every biblical genre talks about somewhere – in the law, the narratives, the prophets, the Psalms and wisdom literature, the gospels and epistles.” When people use the term “social justice,” they are generally referring to people acting justly in their interactions with each other and the world.  We can pursue social justice for a variety of different reasons, including as a response to God’s call to justice. The distinctive of biblical justice, perhaps, has to do with motivation. We engage in justice not merely because we are kind people wanting to alleviate the suffering of others, but because we are disciples of a just God who hears the cries of the vulnerable and longs to mobilize his body to bring rescue. God calls us to this mission, but God also underwrites the mission. God meets us in this mission and God transforms us through this mission.

Have you experienced any personal “aha moments” of revelation or discovery while in the process of writing The Just Church?

The wonderful experience of getting to write this book was that it was the summary of about 10 years of work with my former church, The River (to whom the book is dedicated) and here at IJM. It was the opportunity to finally put into words some things I’d been learning on this journey with God and some good friends into the work of biblical justice.

People often say that they are “only one person,” and they don’t know how they can make a difference. What advice would you give them about stepping out and getting started?

According to the CIA Fact Book, there are 2.2 Billion Christians in the world. In the US alone, there are over 300,000 churches. Together we are more than a quorum. We are the hands and feet of the God of justice. And we are waking from our slumber. Let’s work to rouse the particular limb to which we are attached and shake off the cobwebs. This body is on a mission.

What key takeaway do you hope will make the biggest imprint on the mind and heart of the reader?

IJM learned early on that getting churches riled up about slavery, sex trafficking and other forms of violent oppression was not difficult. The hard part is coaching those churches to meaningful, enduring action. It’s not that churches lack the desire to act. What we’ve found over the years is that most churches simply lack a proven strategy to get them through the complexity, pain and darkness involved in engaging violent oppression. This book offers that proven strategy based on more than a decade of experience with churches who’ve found deep and lasting engagement.

Author, Jim Martin

Learn more about how your church can partner with IJM on the frontlines and in your community. Purchase Copies of The Just Church, visit www.ijm.org, or follow IJM on Twitter @IJMHQ.  Click Here to invite Jim Martin or another IJM expert to speak at your church or event.

 

If you’ve read this book and it’s made an impact on you, or you’re working to promote justice in your church or group, leave a comment below and share with others on the same journey! 

Related Articles:

New Book by International Justice Mission: The Just Church

When We Call Evil Good

International Justice Mission: Making Public Justice Systems Work for Victims of Oppression 

Bay area churches called ‘justice-seekers’ in book from anti-trafficking leader 

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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10 Quotes about The Power of One

You’ve probably heard the expression: “The Power of One”. A less eloquent way of conveying the same idea might be: “Don’t just sit there, do something.”  Many of us are hyper-focused on what’s right in front of our face. In our shortsightedness, we find it easy to fixate on problems rather than solutions. Naturally, the problems then become too big, and solutions seemingly unattainable.  

When it comes to the needs of humanity, our typical response is self-reflecting. We think we can’t make a big enough difference to matter. Imagine throwing pebbles at a water tower. When in reality, it’s simply a matter of adjusting our thinking and our approach to problems.

When we step outside of ourselves, we begin to see ourselves not as the solution, but as part of the solution. Something that is much bigger than “just us”. We are able to imagine positive change and real solutions. Picture a quilt. In and of itself, each part may seem insignificant, but once each individual piece is woven together, we are able to see the bigger picture. We can envision how a solution actually is possible.

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. -Edward Everett Hale

I wondered why somebody didn’t do something.  Then I realized… I am somebody. -Author Unknown

Each time we stand up for an ideal, or act to improve the lot of others, or strike out against injustice, we send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. -Robert F. Kennedy

The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society. -Jack Kemp

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -Theodore Roosevelt

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. -Mother Teresa

Get friends involved. Get the community to take action. Everyone cannot do everything but each of you can do one thing. -Somaly Mam

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. -Edmund Burke

I don’t feel like I’ve done anything extraordinary but take my little light and shine it in darkness. -Leymah Gbowee

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  -Anne Frank

These 10 quotes about the power of one are friendly reminders that each of us can make a difference where we are. Waiting until we have all the answers or means is not only impractical, it’s unrealistic. We can only give what is in our hands and in our hearts today. That is our responsibility, that is our privilege.

It’s amazing how once you step out, like-minded people are drawn together. Doors begin to open. Opportunities present themselves. Ideas proliferate. Collaboration is a powerful and rewarding thing when its purpose is to create a better world for those who cannot do it for themselves.

It’s much more fulfilling (and fun) to be a part of positive change, than to sit it out on the sidelines. When you hold back on others, you hold back on yourself. Likewise, when you hold back on yourself, you hold back on others. As Leymah Gbowee suggests, just start by shining your little light… then see what begins to happen.

How are you making a positive impact with what you have, right where you are? Have you found in reaching out to make a difference for others, it made a difference in YOU?

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY: IJM’s The Just Church by Jim Martin

In the news today, we see heart-wrenching stories about the complexity and horrors of sexual exploitation, genocide, forced labor, debt bondage, extreme poverty, and a bevy of other human sufferings. More than ever, we hear talk about extreme poverty, ethnic cleansing, and human trafficking aka modern-day slavery. But as individuals and societies, especially in the western world, we find ourselves in a counterintuitive state of self-absorption and apathy that only fuels the brokenness, adding insult to injury.

And… Where’s the Church?

The church is right in the middle, yet many would argue, not fully awake. Although the church is commissioned to, “love your neighbor as yourself,” and the call for justice rings louder than ever, the world is missing, in large part, a crucial voice: The Church.  Do our “neighbors” not encompass widows, orphans, and others whose human rights have been so violently trampled upon?  Should we not hope for the church to be the first to answer the call?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9

In The Just Church, Jim Martin of the International Justice Mission, (IJM) asks and answers: “Why is it that the glaring global justice issues of our day—issues such as sex trafficking, modern slavery, illegal property seizure and sexual assault—are so seldom addressed in our churches?  Why is it that the widows, orphans, aliens, and strangers so often mentioned in the Scriptures are so seldom mentioned (or present) in our churches?”  

The author challenges readers to “move outside our small worlds,” and “actually see and experience the world as it really is—inclusive of the suffering and pain that we could easily avoid noticing. It calls the church to move from apathy to action, not just calling out the issues and the need, but meticulously outlining strategies, sharing true stories, lessons learned, and offering tools that any congregation or individual can use in their justice-seeking mission.

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY To enter, simply leave a comment below and you will automatically be entered to win a Free Copy of “The Just Church.” Winner will be announced by Nov 1st 2012. Share with Your Church & Tell a Friend!

ABOUT IJM

International Justice Mission brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems effectively protect the poor. 

GET INVOLVED

Learn more about how your church can partner with IJM on the frontlines and in your community. Purchase Copies of The Just Church, visit www.ijm.org, or follow IJM on Twitter @IJMHQ.  Click Here to invite Jim Martin or another IJM expert to speak at your church or event.

Related Article: New Book by International Justice Mission: The Just Church

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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New Book by International Justice Mission: The Just Church

 

Millions of people around the world are living in the grip of injustice today. Who will be their voice?  Who will see and hear them? Who will help bring them to a place of wholeness? Who will defend their cause?

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Although the concept of political advocacy can be a challenge for many churches, IJM takes the scriptures offer as a clear call for the church to become a voice for those living in the grip of oppression and injustice.

“Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9

The fact is that child victims of rape, slaves, and widows whose land has been stolen from them need others to advocate for them. IJM believes that churches, Christian leaders, pastors, and congregations can—and should—play a vital role in advocating for the voiceless.  While you may agree, you (or your church) may not know how to engage. 

Here’s the good news! Today, IJM released “The Just Church: Becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking, disciple-making congregation” by Jim Martin.  Finally, a “roadmap” filled with practical and relevant insights and information applicable and critical for any church’s justice mission. The author asks and answers: “Why is it that the glaring global justice issues of our day—issues such as sex trafficking, modern slavery, illegal property seizure and sexual assault—are so seldom addressed in our churches? Why is it that the widows, orphans, aliens, and strangers so often mentioned in the Scriptures are so seldom mentioned (or present) in our churches?”

Author Jim Martin

Jim Martin is the VP of church mobilization for International Justice Mission. He has been on the front lines of the battle for justice in the world’s darkest and most dangerous places.

He (along with IJM) has “been there and done that”. They don’t just talk about the issues, they live the issues. The Just Church will challenge and equip any individual or church committed to justice!

Donations enable IJM to bring rescue and restoration to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. 100% of author royalties will support the work of IJM.

What have you found to be the biggest obstacle or fear when engaging in justice in your church or community?  Are you ready to be a voice for the voiceless by becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking church? 

Related Articles:

When We Call Evil Good

International Justice Mission: Making Public Justice Systems Work for Victims of Oppression 

Bay area churches called ‘justice-seekers’ in book from anti-trafficking leader 

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Leave This World Better…

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.”  -Wilfred Peterson

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