Just Courage by Gary A. Haugen

Reposting because the Kindle version is on sale for $2.99 right now.

Just Courage by Gary HaugenTakeaway: It takes courage to stand up to violence.  But Christians should not be lacking in courage when we have Christ.  God desires to use us, not to keep us safe.

This was a free book from ChristianAudio a couple months ago.  It is a brief book, just over 3 hours in audio version, but it is powerful in its story of International Justice Mission.  I have been aware of IJM for a few years.  I serve on a committee with a woman that is part of their fund development committee.  I have heard news reports about their work releasing people from slavery and sex trafficing for years.

But this was my first real introduction to the work directly.  Gary Haugen started IJM about 10 years ago.  It is a collection of lawyers, social workers and advocates that work around the world to raise awareness about and free people from slavery, sex trafficking and injustice.  Haugen has a particular definition of the work that they do.  It is more than just producing justice or alleviating need, it is directly addressing injustice where violence is present.  He asserts that when violence is present, people are often incapable of releasing themselves from injustice and require outside intervention.  Violence of the sort that is associated with slavery and sex trafficking is exactly the type of work that we as Christians need to have the courage to work for, but often are either unaware of the need or assume it is much smaller than reality.

Even here in America recent report have suggested that 200,000 to 300,000 children are involved in prostitution.  And Atlanta (where I am from) is thought to be the center of the child prostitution world in the US.  Another report that I have seen suggest that about 20,000 people are in slavery in the United States today.  About half in the sex trade.

Haugen is smart, and honest about the work of IJM.  He says that they cannot free everyone.  But they can free some.  IJM believes that we cannot become overwhelmed by the problem but we need to start with what we can and do all we can.

A major theme of the book is that we can understand the plight of those in slavery and prostitution if we think about being parents.  As a parent, your heart lives outside your body.  You are not fully in control of what happens to your heart, because you are not fully in control of what happens to your child.  And as a parent, Haugen says he always has something to relate to others, even those that are from very different social situations.  This is both a way to tug on your heart strings and to really show people how real the need is to focus on the problems that IJM is focused on.

A second major theme is courage.  Haugen suggests that if we are to be serious about our Christianity then we have to be courageous.  He is not suggesting that we all need to go out and fight slavery, but that the basic call of Christians is to follow God and following God always requires courage.  God desires to use us, not keep us safe.  We are always better off being used and following God, rather than being safe and hidden.

He brings the parenting theme back again when we talks about how hard it is for the parents of the IJM interns, most of whom are strong Christians, to allow their children to be used by God and not be safe.

I am interested in the interaction between this book and the Introverts in the Church book that I will review next week.  In some ways Haugen is writing an expectation of an extroverted Christianity.  He and others at IJM are getting in people’s faces and working to free slaves.  But the work is as much about quiet research and the reflection and introverted thought about what we need to do as Christians.  As an introvert, it may be harder to me to work outside my comfort zone.  But I can be used by God just as much, with my current talents and gifts to accomplish the great work of redemption in the name of Christ as those that are confronting evil in very extroverted ways.

I highly recommend Just Courage.  The only negative is the length.  I would not have purchased the audiobook without a serious sale if it was only 3 hours and I wouldn’t have purchased a hardback (only 148 pages) for the $18 cover price given its length (Amazon has it for $12).  It is good, just short.

Purchase Links: HardcoverKindle Edition

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I didn’t know when I read or drafted this post that January 11th was National Human Trafficking Awareness day.  Here is a post with 11 things you can do to combat Human trafficking.

Here is a video of Haugen talking about Just Courage

Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian from International Justice Mission on Vimeo.

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