Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Justice Mission

Tonight the youth and I will be finishing up our last lesson in The Justice Mission curriculum. I'm not much of a curriculum kind of guy, but after some great recommendations from Seth, we embarked on the journey towards reconciliation, redemption, and justice for the marginalized and oppressed people in our world. I have gotten some really strong feedback from students whose lives are being impacted in our discussions, studies, and reflections about the mission of justice by God. The Justice Mission curriculum is supported with videos that I found to be conversational, and non-emotionally manipulative, which is nice for a change, and unusual for student materials. The curriculum focuses on the work of The International Justice Mission, an organization that puts into practice the justice mission in wonderful ways. While the videos moved me deeply, along with our discussions, even to tears at times, I didn't feel manipulated or forced into a corner with no hope of how to bring this stuff into reality. In fact, it was the stories of change and salvation that brought such hope to my heart; my heart which struggles to believe that this justice, holistic salvation of the oppressed and marginalized, for the down-and-outs, and hopefully for me, the oppressor, the slacker, and the perpetrator of injustice can somehow come into reality.

Here are two emails that I received from some students that highlight their thoughts about our investigation into the justice mission:

"Thanks for youth group tonight. I super really enjoyed it. I feel like it was kind of deep and mental in a very positive way. I predict that I will be thinking a lot about what we talked about throughout the week and I can't wait to work on the journal sheet you gave us. I'm not quite sure why, but I just really loved youth tonight."


"I just wanted to let you know that I think this justice mission is a really great idea. A couple of weeks ago, we were watching Hotel Rwanda in class, and people were so ignorant and had no idea that genocide exists nowadays. I really think this is a great way to learn about all of the prejudices in the world and ways that we can help stop it just in every day life. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for a really great lesson. These past couple of weeks, I have really been struggling with the idea of oppression and what I can do to help. I am looking forward to hearing more about this and learning about it."

I was talking with a friend recently at a birthday party about salvation, and the penal-substitutionary theory of the atonement, and I've been thinking a lot about the importance of telling a story of salvation that includes a change of the self, our communities, and our world, in a way that includes a radical sense of joining with God in laying down our lives for others. If salvation is limited to getting off the hook for sin and getting out of the punishment of hell, where does the motivation and need to join God in God's mission of justice for our world come from?

This has been a great experience, and if you have been thinking about going through the Justice Mission, I would recommend giving it a try. I'm pretty skeptical of curriculum stuff, and this was really good. Not to mention that Marko, the folks over at the Justice Mission, and other Youth Specialties folks were praying for us, followed up with us, and will help with any questions you might have.