“We’re not after charity . . . we’re after justice!” — Bono
As the sun started to fade and night was setting in, a young boy ran out from the children’s home where he was living to a nearby field. As he was running, he quickly glanced over his shoulder making sure no one was watching. He had lived there for years since his parents could no longer care for him. Perhaps they had died, or maybe they suffered from leprosy . . . a disease that affects hundreds of thousands each year in India. Or perhaps they were simply too poor to care for his needs and abandoned him at the steps of the home. Whatever the reason, he was there.
Although surrounded by hundreds of children just like him, he might as well have been alone. No true family, no place to call home, no possessions to his name. He had nothing. Everything that he once had in his young life had been taken away. And so he assumed everything else he would ever receive would eventually be taken away as well.
And knowing that helps us understand what he did next. Earlier that day, he had been given a valuable gift . . . a brand new pair of shoes. They were most likely the first ones he had ever owned. To him, this was a priceless possession—something that was his and only his.
He ran out to the field, and hoping no one would see, he dug a hole and buried his shoes. There they would be safe and no one could ever take them away. Finally, he had something of his very own.
Little did he know that as those shoes lay buried in a mound of dirt, his life was slowly beginning to change. Those shoes represented more than he could ever imagine. Perhaps for the first time in his life he had something much more important than shoes . . . he was beginning to see the first glimpse of hope.
It is hard to believe that World Help began one of our Child Sponsorship Programs near that same field in India for children just like this little boy. Children who had nothing, but with so much potential. I was there the day it began . . . taking photos, writing down names, documenting tragic stories, and literally seeing lives change right before my eyes.
Seventeen years later, our program has reached around the globe providing 48,694 sponsorships for children in need.
What I love about our work in India is the same thing I appreciate about our work around the world. World Help has a holistic approach that meets not only physical needs but spiritual needs as well. If you have been reading the summer blog series, you have seen the work we are doing in India . . . child sponsorship, clean-water initiatives, church planting, rescue from slavery, and so much more. We are after sustainable, life-transforming change that will last for generations to come. You see, we are not after handouts and charity . . . we’re after justice.
I write about the issue of justice in my new book Awake. And when I think and talk about this subject, I always remember one phrase . . . “Let’s roll.”
In the book of Amos, we are told that justice should “roll like a river.” It should roll like a mighty river that conquers everything in its path.
In fact, the prophet Amos goes on to tell us to forget about our “religious meetings,” conferences, and conventions. Forget about our “religious projects,” our “image making,” and “noisy ego-music.” God is simply not interested in these things if we forget what He really wants from us. And what does He want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
— Amos 5:24 MSG
We all remember the now famous words of Todd Beamer on that fateful United flight in September 2001. His last words heard by the 911 operator before he courageously attempted to fight off the terrorists were just that, “Let’s Roll.” He was willing to fight no matter what the cost . . . even if it meant he would lose his life. And although he did lose his life; because he fought, countless others were saved.
His words became a rallying cry for us as Americans in the war on terror. And those words, “Let’s Roll,” will forever remind us to to stand up for what we believe, for what is good, and for all that we hold dear.
Justice should roll.
As we fight for justice in India, we are fighting issues of extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of clean water, abandonment, slavery, sexual exploitation, and spiritual darkness.
But we also fight against what I believe is the greatest injustice of all—hopelessness. When you are hopeless, there is no way out. Without hope, you have no future. Without hope, there is no chance of love, forgiveness, or restoration—there is nothing.
When we seek justice, we should be seeking to restore hope—hope to a hurting world.
In a few months, I will return to India. And I will do the same thing I did on my very first visit. I will document the stories that are waiting to be told—stories of injustice and restored hope.
It’s time to forget about charity. It’s time for hope to be restored in lives in India and around the world.