Archives For Social Justice

Nothing good ever happens here.

Those were the sentiments expressed by the people of Redenção, a small town in Brazil’s northeast. With drug trafficking, political corruption, abject poverty, and violence on the list of Redenção’s daily reality, it was easy to see why many believed it to be true. Even when a new church moved into the area saying it was going to be a place of truth and hope for the people, a place where children would be cared for and taught about Jesus, a place where the gospel would be known, most were skeptical. They won’t build a building here. They’ll take our children away from us. This will be a bad thing.

Me with Pastor Isaiah and Karl Garcia

And then Pastor Isaiah arrived. With the support of churches and organizations like Acts 29, The Church of 11:22, and Compassion International, not only was a local church established but a building constructed where families could bring their children to be cared for both physically and spiritually.

With Compassion International, I and other Acts 29 pastors had the opportunity last week to witness the Grand Opening of the church in Redenção. It filled my heart with joy to see a thriving gospel work – families were being reached, kids were ministered to, and a gospel dent was being made in the city. I was taken both by the dedication of the church to reach the city as well as Compassion’s intentionality with helping free kids from poverty. It was a powerful combination for those living in Redenção. One woman said that before the church arrived no kids would play in the streets during the day. Now they can. While much darkness still exists in Redenção, there is also light.

Grand Opening of the church with Compassion International’s sponsored kids

Enough light has spread that views are changing. Another lady who at first resisted the planting of the church has now begun to attend it. She’s seen the genuine love and concern of Pastor Isaiah and those who serve alongside him. She’s heard of the goodness of God’s grace in Christ. She’s tasted of what it is when God’s people are about God’s mission.  When asked about everything that’s happened she had a new tune to sing:

Wow! Something good CAN happen here!

And it wasn’t politicians, drug lords, or others in power who make promises to these poorest of people. It was Jesus. Jesus working through his local church.

Playing futbal with the kids

How fitting. In Portuguese, Redenção means “redemption.” It was named so because it was the first place in Brazil that abolished slavery (1883). Indeed, one of the Brazilian leaders told us that the ground on which the church was built likely was a place where slaves were sold. Now, over 130 years later, it is a place where another freedom is found. Freedom from poverty. Freedom from hopelessness. Freedom in the gospel.

Good things still can happen in places where no one thinks it can because the mission of Jesus is not only alive and well but also because it’s each and every one of our calling as Christians…to those across the street or over the seas. May the world find redemption in the Redeemer!

It’s no secret Radiohead has been my favorite band for some time. This video from UNICEF (with track donated by RH) gives me one more reason to like them all the more. Watch and get a little more perspective on what really happens to some children around the world. Sobering to say the least.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
– The Gospel According to St. Matthew 25:35-40

Ways you can help:

Recently I mentioned in my message “The Brokenness of Work” that sin has not only infiltrated our offices but systems which impact us both nationally and globally. I gave the example of modern-day slavery where shockingly up to 27 million people live under the horrendous conditions of forced labor.  Sin’s grip on the global sphere of work through slavery is closer than we might think. For example, according to notforsalecampaign.org 70% of the world’s chocolate is produced in West Africa where an estimated 12,000 children are currently in slavery. It is quite sobering to think that the money we paid for the chocolate given to our sweethearts on Valentine’s Day might have possibly aided the oppression of children under forced labor a world away. Add that to the fact that H-Town is reportedly one of the main hubs for human trafficking in North America and you’ve got some sobering news indeed. Houston, we do have a problem!

Unfortunately, the havoc sin wreaks in the “wide-angle” of work around the world has other insidious manifestations.   Here are a few websites that give us a glimpse not only into some of those problems but offer potential solutions as well. If you are interested in fighting the brokenness of work on a global scale these links may be a helpful start. If you find a term you haven’t heard before (e.g, microlending) please take some time to discover what it is and how it might intersect your commitment as a Follower of Jesus to living out the Kingdom-values of the Gospel.

Global Slavery/Human Trafficking:

Trafficking in Houston

Fair Trade

Microlending