Some years ago I became so frustrated with trying to hear God's voice truly in scripture that I gave up regular Bible reading. I was having a hard time sorting out the very many human opinions about what a Bible verse meant that my head was fairly swimming. Family members argued which version of the Bible was the "true Bible" and church leaders spoke and theologians pontificated on their pet interpretations, often demonstrably poorly researched indicating a lack of discernment. Other folks were obviously working hard to understand as best they could, but still with a stark lack of humility that acknowledges that we are less than perfect so must tread gently in knowing or doing God's Will. Fortunately I found my bliss in Bible reading again, but that is for another day.
But the above verse from Micah brings back those feelings of "what exactly might that mean?" Since I became involved and therefore more aware of justice issues in our legal system I have had my heart broken (always a good thing if we truly want God to reconstruct it according to GOD's ways) and frequently feel overwhelmed by the depth and breadth and scope of its dysfunction that bleeds into our families, neighborhoods, communities, country and world.
If I were a dozen healthy, retired people with a heart for justice I could not do all the things that I see that could use a hand:
- focused, fervent prayer for all affected by crime, the legal system and society's attitude toward folks who have been incarcerated
- financial support for children who need a safe place at camp with caring adults to experience what a Heavenly Father might look like
- support for caregivers of children and aging parents whose lives are impacted by the incarceration of a loved one
- leaders and volunteers to intervene in ways that reduce crime BEFORE it happens (school mentors and tutors, Big Brothers & Sisters, domestic abuse intervention, support for homeless families as a few examples)
- Bible class leaders to help educate church members about the issues
- volunteers supporting folks dealing with the aftermath of crime: victims and their families, police officers and social workers, legal aid and other advocates for folks charged with a crime and the prosecutors preparing and trying cases, judges and juries wading through distressing evidence, detention administrators and personnel, all those incarcerated (both innocent and guilty), prison and jail staff and volunteers--if that sounds like on some level we are suffering from the lack of justice then you are understanding the size of the problem
- Bible class and life class leaders and worship leading volunteers inside jails and prisons
- Folks to learn and teach restorative justice skills in work places, schools, government agencies, courts, law enforcement, churches...anywhere where folks come in conflict--which is everywhere.
- Tutors to help folks needing new or improved skills in order to function in the workforce so they can financially support their families and contribute to their communities and thereby be supported in staying the course of productive lives.
- People who study and think seriously about the political issues involved and how to best influence court and political systems that need to implement proven processes from detection to adjudication to detention to the return to the free world. We need to do a much better job of offering justice to victims of crime, especially children and the elderly and other marginalized victims.
It all feels very overwhelming and impossible. Yet, I know that God did not call me to justice ministry because it is all impossible, for nothing is with God. And I am feeling a very strong call to focus resources to inform, invigorate and empower people of faith to DO JUSTICE. God has clearly called us all to stand for the poor, the victims, the survivors, the lost in ways that are more than hoping. He calls us to act but our churches and social agencies are doing a poor job of helping folks enlist in the war on political injustice, or even understanding well the persistence, depth and dangers of where we have drifted as a culture and nation.
Please pray for me as I seek God's Will for how I should DO JUSTICE and help others consider their opportunities to DO JUSTICE...for all our sakes.