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    A Christmas Journey to Freedom, Part 1

    A Christmas journey unlike any you have ever taken before—a special holiday presentation about the journey of a runaway slave taken along the Underground Railroad. Featuring soloist Wintley Phipps, author and professor Dr. Allen Callahan, and actress Gwendolyn Briley-Strand as Harriet Tubman in the dramatic presentation, “A Christmas Journey to Freedom.” Other parts of the […]

    Cities of Joy and Healing

    I have a friend, a nurse, who recently went to Thessaloniki, Greece, to work in three refugee camps, primarily serving mothers and young babies who were far from home in the bitter cold. The overwhelming majority of the refugees are from Syria, where their villages and cities, once places of laughter and life, are now mostly rubble. In an email, my friend attached an image of one of the refugee tents where someone had scribbled on the outside: “We are not refugees, we are prisoners here. We want a better life.”

    Joy and Justice

    At a conference in Asia, I had two eye-opening conversations in the span of a few hours. First, a pastor told of spending 11 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction before he was cleared. Then, a group of families shared how they had spent a fortune to escape religious persecution in their homeland, only to be betrayed by the very people they had paid to bring about their rescue. Now, after years in a refugee camp, they wonder if they will ever find a home.

    In both cases, victimization was compounded by an absence of justice—just one evidence of…

    Overcoming Evil

    In his book Hitler’s Cross, Pastor Erwin Lutzer shares these heart-wrenching words from a man who lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust: “We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because, what could anyone do to stop it? A railroad track ran behind our small church and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. . . . We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By…

    Getting Away with It

    In June 2004, at a Vancouver art gallery, Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott received an Olympic gold medal. That’s interesting, because the Winter Olympics had been held in 2002—in Utah. Scott had won bronze behind two athletes who were disqualified months later when it was learned they had used banned substances.

    It’s good that Scott eventually received her gold, but gone forever is the moment when she should have stood on the podium to hear her country’s national anthem. That injustice couldn’t be remedied.

    Injustice of any kind disturbs us, and surely there are far greater wrongs than being denied a hard-won…

    The Overshadowing of God’s Personal Deliverance

    . . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord —Jeremiah 1:8

    God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah …

    Silence

    Skittish chickens scattered as relief trucks clattered past the weathered huts of the village. Barefoot children stared. Traffic on this rain-ravaged “road” was rare.

    Suddenly, a walled mansion loomed into view of the convoy. It was the mayor’s house—although he didn’t live in it. His people lacked basic necessities, while he lounged in luxury in a distant city.

    Such unfairness angers us. It angered God’s prophet too. When Habakkuk saw rampant oppression he asked, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Hab. 1:2). But God had noticed, and He said, “Woe to him who piles up stolen…

    Passing By

    During a political election year, a tow truck driver was called to assist a woman who was stranded with a broken-down vehicle. But the truck driver, upon seeing a bumper sticker on the car for a candidate he disliked, informed the motorist that he wouldn’t help her and drove away. His actions remind me how we sometimes choose to ignore those who need our help.

    The Lighthouse

    By its very existence, a ministry center in Rwanda called the “Lighthouse” symbolizes redemption. It sits on land where during the genocide in 1994 the country’s president owned a grand home. This new structure, however, has been erected by Christians as a beacon of light and hope. Housed there is a Bible institute to raise up a new generation of Christian leaders, along with a hotel, restaurant, and other services for the community. Out of the ashes has come new life.

    Those who built the Lighthouse look to Jesus as their source of hope and redemption. When Jesus went to the…

    When A Friend is Suspected of Rape and Murder

    I was about to turn in for the night; it was almost 11pm. As usual, I gave my phone a final check. My good friend, Linda, had just sent me a flurry of messages. What I was about to read was horrific and heart-breaking.

    Who Are You Defending?

    When Kathleen’s teacher called her to the front of the grammar class to analyze a sentence, she panicked. As a recent transfer student, she hadn’t learned that aspect of grammar. The class laughed derisively.

    Instantly the teacher sprang to her defense. “She can out-write any of you any day of the week!” he explained. Many years later, Kathleen gratefully recalled the moment: “I started that day to try to write as well as he said I could.” Eventually, Kathleen Parker would win a Pulitzer Prize for her writing.

    As did Kathleen’s teacher, Jesus identified with the defenseless and vulnerable. When His disciples…

    Why Does God Allow Some to Suffer More Than Others?

    At a recent political conference, I had the opportunity to meet individuals from different countries, many of whom were currently living amid political uncertainty. Listening to the struggles they faced in their own countries, I was intrigued.

    Can’t Die But Once

    Born into slavery and badly treated as a young girl, Harriet Tubman (c. 1822–1913) found a shining ray of hope in the Bible stories her mother told. The account of Israel’s escape from slavery under Pharaoh showed her a God who desired freedom for His people.

     

    Eventually Harriet slipped over the Maryland state line and out of slavery. She couldn’t remain content, however, knowing so many were still trapped in captivity. So she led more than a dozen rescue missions back into slave states, dismissing the personal danger. “I can’t die but once,” she said.

     

    Harriet knew the truth of the statement:…

    Relief for the Troubled

    One of my favorite scenes in literature occurs when a feisty aunt confronts an evil stepfather over the abuse of her nephew, David Copperfield. This scene takes place in Charles Dickens’ novel named after the main character.

    When David Copperfield shows up at his aunt’s house, his stepfather is not far behind. Aunt Betsy Trotwood is not pleased to see the malicious Mr. Murdstone. She recounts a list of offenses and does not let him slither out of his responsibility for each act of cruelty. Her charges are so forceful and truthful that Mr. Murdstone—a normally aggressive person—finally leaves without a…

    Changing Our Tune

    When my friend received a traffic ticket for speeding in a construction zone, he decided to contest it in court. As he put it, he was driving below the posted speed limit when another vehicle raced past him. The police officer’s radar gun had recorded the other car’s speed. But the judge would have none of it.