Many people have been asking me why I particularly am interested in serving with the International Justice Mission (IJM). Why not do the Peace Corps – they pay your way for you! Why not go with a traditional missions organization that focuses on evangelism? What’s so special about IJM?
I could give you many reasons for why I’m so completely thrilled to be going to Uganda with IJM this year, but only one reason really sums it up completely.
I could tell you how I love their method of “collaborative casework” – how they intentionally partner with local churches and communities and train up indigenous, grassroots leaders, so that 90% of IJM’s staff worldwide are nationals of the countries where they serve.
I could tell you of the great work they’re doing in the United States, in churches and on college campuses, awakening the American church and equipping them to respond Biblically and holistically to injustice around the world.
I could take you through the Bible and point out every passage that command Christians to seek justice for the poor and oppressed (it would take us a while).
I could confess to you my tendency to look at life through romanticized lens, and that the mere concept of justice for the oppressed appeals to every idealistic fiber in my body that believes hope and justice can restore precious lives.
But if I had to boil it down to one reason, it would be this:
These words are not my own, they’re from Jackie Pullinger, a veteran missionary who left her home in the early 1960s to work with street children and drug addicts in Hong Kong. This is what she says when asked “why”, and ultimately it’s what I would say, too, if I were as eloquent as she:
“I lack nothing. I have everything – everything I want in Christ. But that’s not true for the world. There are millions and millions and millions of people who lack. They don’t know those words about the Lord who feeds hungry people. Nobody ever told them that oppressed people would be freed. They live believing that corruption is the norm…That’s what most of them know. For these people, I have no excuse. You have no excuse. If you do not reach them with the love of God… who will? That’s why He’s allowed us to remain here. So that we can take His ministry to them. It’s a job that the angels longed to do. But He left it to you and me. Not just the responsibility, but the joy, the privilege, of sharing good news.”
As I serve with IJM, I won’t be out on street corners telling people that they can get to heaven. Our ministry is of a different sort. But I am pretty positive that this work of bring justice, restoration, and hope to the lives of oppressed people around the world is something that the angels long to do. But Jesus didn’t command the angels to continue his ministry of restoration – He left it in our hands. That’s why I’m going to Uganda with IJM.