Justice For Such A Time As This!

15 04 2010

Hey guys,

I wanted to share with you some thoughts about justice and how deeply our God cares about those who need justice on their behalf.  I pray as you are finishing up your semesters and getting ready for summer plans that you can keep in mind that God has called us to be His people of justice and that you can pray for clear purpose in bringing His justice into a broken and hurting world.

 For Such a Time as This

by Amber Van Schooneveld

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”  I said, “Here I am. Send me.”  Isa. 6:8


Olive is a beautiful woman, with skin like dark coffee and eyes that flash. She is my age, born in the same year, and for some reason this makes me feel a strong connec­tion – as a kid I might have played Hide and Seek in the street with her or sat next to her in math. Olive speaks of her life growing up in Uganda. I’ve heard statistics of poverty before, but those were faceless – they didn’t have Olive’s eyes or her white smile. The statistics are like annoying pebbles the news pelts me with. They fall to the ground and are forgotten.

Olive is different. She isn’t one of the annoying numbers I’m bombarded with. She speaks of her life when she was 6.  I think to myself, What was I doing at 6? First day of kindergarten with my new pink backpack and Mary Jane shoes. Pictures were taken, friends were made, cookies were gobbled. Your basic Leave It to Beaver episode. But at the same time I posed for pictures in my Mary Janes, rebels were spilling over Uganda’s borders. Olive and her family lived in a small village. Someone ran, yelling that the rebels were coming. It was every man for himself. All dashed to the bushes and hid. The rebels swept through the village, killing those they found and burning huts on the way. Fleeing danger then became a regular occurrence for Olive. From the age of 6 to the age of 8, while I was eating Cheerios and watching Sesame Street, she was crouching in bushes, hoping not to be found and killed or, perhaps worse, forced to become a soldier’s bride.

Next scene: 13 years old. I hated 13 – I didn’t make friends easily, and I was made fun of at school because my parents had bought me a leather skirt instead of a suede skirt, which was a must-have. But I was loved and safe and fed, embarrassing leather skirt and all. At 13, Olive had moved to the city with her mother where unrest wasn’t knocking on the door each night. But Olive’s mother had become ill. She was weak and getting weaker. One day Olive came home to bring her mother oranges. She was sleeping. Olive shook her. She didn’t stir. Olive shook and shook, but her mom never woke up. Olive was an AIDS orphan at 13. Fifteen years later, telling the story, she holds her head in her hands as tears drip from her chin and her shoulders shake. This is no statistic; this is a daughter, just like me. This isn’t a number that fell to the ground and was forgotten; this is 15 years of pain. This is a daughter who lost her mother too soon … while I was wishing my mom understood fashion trends better.

Without parents, Olive moved to a little house with seven of her cousins – all of whom had been orphaned. They slept stacked in different rooms. Olive slept in the kitchen with her sister. They scrounged for food. They took care of each other. They got by. The end of Olive’s story is a happy one. Through a relief and development program, she had enough food to eat. She had enough money to pay for school fees. She got treatment when she had tuberculosis. She learned about the love of God and that he has a plan for her. And now she is a proud, tall woman with a master’s degree in social work, helping children with disabilities. She isn’t a number. She’s a story of hope. She’s a daughter. She’s a friend. She’s a treasure of God.

I’m Convinced

The pesky facts of poverty can bounce off of me. It’s all so far away, the numbers are so big that they are just too much to digest (how many is a billion anyway?), and it’s so much easier to just close my mind and move on. But then I think of Olive … and I’m convinced. I can’t stand passively by anymore. That could have been me. That could have been my sister, who has her same flashing eyes. I can scarcely comprehend a life in which my sister and I would have to regularly run from men who are trying to kill us. But at 6, that could have been us; instead, it was Olive. At 13, it could have been me shaking my mother who never woke up. It was Olive. It could have been my cousins­ Sarah, Katie, Greg, Tim, Tara, Chris, Kim – living with nothing and with no one to care for us. It was Olive and her cousins. I told my mom this story, and she trembled. It could have been her baby, her sweet little 6-year-old with a pink backpack and Mary Janes.

I’m convinced because those in poverty, the Olives, are just like me. I saw her. I looked into her eyes. A thin, thin line separates me from her. I’m convinced because I know God loves those I’d kind of like to forget. I’ve read the verses. I know the poor have a special place in God’s heart. I know Jesus is somehow close to them, in them. I know that he wants me to free the oppressed, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked.

Ok, God I’m convinced…What do you want from me?

Such a Time

I could have just as easily been born in Uganda, running from rebels as a tot. But God chose differently. God “determined the times set for [men] and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). God had a reason for placing me exactly when and where he did, as the daughter of a middle-class chiropractor in Aurora, Colorado. It might seem pretty random, but it was not.

Not only that, God also prepared particular good works for me: “We are God’s work­manship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God has been planning and planning … placing me just so, giving me exactly what he has, that I might find him and that I might do the good he has prepared in advance for me. What exactly that is, I’m not sure yet. But I’m convinced there’s something.

I think of Esther in the Bible. She was beautiful and charming and became a queen because of those qualities. She might have lain back, eaten grapes, and gotten shoulder rubs every day. I’d like that. But Esther chose to believe her uncle when he said, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). “Such a time as this.” Esther’s husband, King Xerxes, had ordered a genocide of the Jews. Esther could have chosen to shut out the troubles of the world, stay quietly at home, and enjoy her very pleasant life. Instead, she used her position of power to speak up for the oppressed, risking not only her comfort, but her own life.

Could it be that God has placed me in a position of comfort and material power for such a time as this? A lack of clean water is killing almost 2 million people a year, 15.2 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, and 1 million children are trafficked into exploitive labor each year. If ever there was “such a time” – a time that needs God’s redemption, healing, and love – this is it.

I’m definitely not a savior of the world. Esther 4:14 says, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance … will arise from another place.” That’s a relief – because it’s not about me. It seems God is on the move, always on the move, ready to raise up relief and deliverance, people who will go for him, who will be his hands. And maybe, just maybe, I am a part of that plan. Maybe God has given me what he has and put me where he has for just such a time as this.

God on the Move

There is a lot going wrong in this world. I can’t change everything. But I’m learning that God hasn’t asked me to. I think there may be one little piece of the puzzle he’s asking me to fill in, one good work he’s asking me to do. Maybe when I’m working on my little piece and my friend is working on her little piece next to me and some church in Massachusetts is working on its piece and some Christians in Rwanda are working on their piece … maybe then God’s great masterpiece will be revealed. My piece may seem small, as if it doesn’t matter, but I’m just one part of the body of Christ. God is on the move to change this world one person at a time. Olive was one small person who was loved by someone. It mattered to Olive. If Olive’s mother had known, it would have mattered greatly to her. And now it matters to the children Olive is helping. What if I could be a part of something like that?

I’m convinced God is asking me to join him. God is on the move to heal, love, and restore, and he’s asking, “Who will go for me?”

Who knows what God will do?

My heart cries out, “Here I am, send me.”

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48b

What part is God asking you to play?  Why has He placed you here for such a time as this?  How can you be a part of bringing His justice and love to this world?

Praying for you!  Have a wonderful weekend!

To the King!





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