As someone who has worked with young people for more than 20 years now, I’ve had the opportunity to see the world through many sets of eyes. I’ve seen what excites them, what stirs their emotion, and what can cause them to sit back and simply be amazed. The one constant emotion that I have seen pop up over the years is anger. Anger at the people and situations that bring suffering to others in the world. But what do they do with that anger? What can they do when the problem seems bigger than them, and an impossible one to take on? Unfortunately, many times nothing happens and they let the motivation fizzle out before great change has taken place.
Then there is this generation that has been emerging for the last few years. They’ve heard the mantra of change, but have seen very little of it come from the people in power. Just like a young David from the story in 1 Samuel 17, they have arrived on the scene at a time of inactivity and stalemate caused by the fear of giants – things like political correctness, greed, and fear of offending have immobilized the generation that has gone before them. But these that are coming in, they can not sit idly by letting their courage become atrophied like that of those who are there but do nothing, for they know that there is STILL a battle to fight.
“So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. So the men of Israel said, ‘Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.’ Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?’” (1 Samuel 17:20-26, NKJV)
I believe that sitting in churches across America (and in class rooms and college dorms) are Christian young people who WANT to do what is right in the world that’s been given to them. They WANT to see injustices confronted just as much as David wanted to see the mouth of Goliath shut all those ages ago. But many of them have allowed culture to convince them that the Church is largely uninvolved – that it is the social programs of the government or the lifted fists of angry occupiers who will confront those injustices for them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! They have to become like David did with Goliath, seeing that injustices are more than just disturbing to them personally – but that they are an affront and challenge to the very heart of God. And when their motives are questioned as David’s were, their response needs to be the same that came from his lips: “Is there not a cause?”
It was about 5 years ago that my eyes REALLY began to be opened to the issues that confront our world today – and this was after 15 years of ministry! I went to speak at a summer camp in Bradenton, Florida, planning on getting there mid-afternoon to be able to catch-up with a friend of mine who was to be the main speaker that night. I arrived at what should have been in the middle of the lunch hour, only to find the entire camp still gathered in the main hall in an intense time of prayer. I’m not talking about the adults – I’m talking about young people crying out to God about issues like abortion and human trafficking. In that moment my heart was literally gripped by what I was encountering and God dropped a seed in me that would take root over an almost 4 year period. That seed grew into a book that I am praying will awaken this generation to 7 injustices the world faces and place in their hands smooth stones that will help them take on each of these ugly giants. That book is called The Justice Revolution.
What makes my book different than any other book for teens and young adults about social injustices? Well, first would be it’s unique format. It’s not just a book full of details and statistics – it is written in a way that causes the reader to commit to reading it over a 21 day period. And each day tackles one of 7 issues, so that each issue gets looked at 3 times during that 3 weeks. The 7 justice issues that I address in the book are: human trafficking, poverty, access to clean water, child soldiers in the world, abortion, the persecuted church, and homelessness.
The second thing that makes this book different is that you don’t just read ABOUT an issue, you take part IN IT so that it makes that issue a personal one. So instead of just reading about homeless people sleeping on the ground or outside, the reader is asked to do that themselves on that day. Or instead of only learning about how little clean water the majority of the world has access to each day, one day you are only allowed to use 2 gallons of water for all of your use – cooking, cleaning, washing, etc. Oh, and that 2 gallons is water that you had to walk a mile for a few days before that.
The third thing that makes The Justice Revolution different is that it helps us to see these issues not just as a moral or compassionate society should see them, but as God sees them. With each issue you are taken to specific scriptures in the Bible that will show you what God has to say about that issue. For those of you reading this who might not consider yourself “the religious type” or who aren’t church-goers – you’ll still be impacted by this book. As a matter of fact, the first group who read and fell in love with my book were my co-workers at a large insurance company I work for – and most of them wouldn’t be considered your typical church-goer!
Through this devotional element and the prayer focuses that accompany them each day, I am believing that the Holy Spirit will open the reader’s eyes to the hurting in the world around them. This is what happened with David on that day some 4,000 years ago – he already had it in his heart that what was taking place was wrong and when that Still Small Voice spoke to him to step up and do something, David was listening.
“Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!’ Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.’ So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.” (1 Samuel 17:40-51, NKJV)
What would the world look like if we all had this courage? What if none of us were afraid to do what was right, no matter the outcome? A blogger friend wrote recently about their struggle to want to have a positive impact on the world, and one of the things she did was buy a pair of TOM’s shoes. Through thier BOGO (Buy One Give One) campaign, for every pair you buy, TOM’s will send a similar pair to a child in the world who needs shoes. She felt conflicted when a friend pointed out that the shoes going to kids in places like Africa were actually made in China, and they asked if that was really a positive impact by taking a shoe sale away from the economy in Africa. This caused her to second guess both her purchase AND the organization, and in frustration she posted: “Sometimes it’s so overwhelming I feel like giving up and just buying whatever I want to without the thought of where it comes from or how it’s affecting the environment and other people.”
Thankfully she had a very well-informed friend who encouraged her that even though TOM’s wasn’t perfect, at least they were doing SOMETHING to try and help. I wholeheartedly agree with this. There are too many people sitting back with all kinds of excuses like David’s brothers and the other Israelite soldiers, thinking the problem is too big so they don’t do anything. Or, even worse, they’ll sit back and criticize those who want to do something. I actually had an online discussion with one of the college students in our life recently who was criticizing the group Invisible Children and their “Kony 2012” awareness campaign. His basic argument was that there is no point in making videos to simply make people aware of an issue. I couldn’t disagree more. Unless you are first made aware of an injustice, there is no way you will begin to care about that issue. David had to first be told what was happening for the anger inside of him to be stirred to specific action. Remember – the Philistines fighting Israel was nothing new, and this taunting by Goliath had been going on for 40 days. But when David heard the specifics and saw that he could do something where no one else was, THAT is when he went from being the Shepherd Boy to the Giant Killer. And the rest for him was history.
The final thing that The Justice Revolution does, is it connects you to people, ministries, and organizations who are already actively doing something in regard to the injustices. So, rather than being inspired and then having to wonder what to do next, there is a whole section that tells you who to contact and where to find them online. My goal is that this would go beyond the 21 days and turn into a genuine lifestyle of being involved.
So now it comes back to you and I. Are we content to sit on the sidelines and not get involved, thinking that the problems are too far away or that they aren’t ours? I say no. We have to be willing to become aware, and then to realize that once we have that information we are held accountable to what we do with it.
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17, NIV)
A few of the injustices that I address in the book have really come into the media’s focus in between the time that I finished writing it and now when it is finally being published. I praise God for this because it just shows me the timeliness of what God gave me and it shows me that NOW is the time for this Revolution!
* To take a look inside of The Justice Revolution, click HERE.
**To order your own copy of The Justice Revolution, go to www.thejusticerevolution.com. When checking out, please put “Barry sent me” in the comments section – it will help me feed my family! 🙂