JUST COURAGE: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian
Gary A. Haugen
As Christians, we are called to be salt and light to the world around us. While many are giving generously and serving in countless ways, there is one area that the church has largely overlooked: the issue of justice. That’s where Gary Haugen and the International Justice Mission (IJM) come into play. Since the organization began 10 years ago, it has been committed to fighting oppression and injustice in all its forms. It has helped free victims of both sex trafficking and slavery as well as defend widows whose property has been seized illegally.
It is from this unique experience that Haugen, president and CEO of IJM, pens JUST COURAGE. The book offers compelling stories of those who have fought injustice in different forms around the world and the rich legacy that they’ve left behind. But it goes one step further in its challenge for all believers to begin the fight against injustice and the violence behind it. Haugen is the first to admit that the journey isn’t easy. He acknowledges that those who have worked for IJM abroad often do so at great personal risk. Some have been brutally beaten, threatened with imprisonment and almost killed. Yet, despite immeasurable pain and loss, these faithful men and women are learning things about themselves and God they could not discover any other way.
Haugen points to one of his colleagues, Sean Litton, as an example of this truth. A successful lawyer at an elite national law firm, Sean decided to get off the fast track to success and open IJM’s first office in the Philippines dedicated to addressing cases of child sexual assault, sex trafficking and illegal detention. His wife and two children made the move overseas with him. Sean expected that the relocation and career change would cost him mightily, and admittedly it did. But he is the first to say that by taking the risk, he got so much more. Though he gave up his own comfort, security, sense of control and worldly success, he found that he received four things in return: adventure, faith, miracles and a deep knowledge of Jesus.
Haugen poignantly writes, “Why among us wouldn’t want these? Jesus is telling us we have to choose. We can’t have adventure, miracles, faith and a deep knowledge of Jesus while holding on to comfort, security, control and success. Do the math. Jesus invites us to choose what we really desire.”
Such challenging observations line the pages of JUST COURAGE. One of the beauties of this book is that Haugen does not just talk about that which he knows, but that which he has paid a price for in his own life. The nuggets of wisdom, insight and knowledge of the holy are truly priceless. This well-written book is a must-have for every believer who recognizes our commission as followers of Jesus to “Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17 NRSV)
--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines
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