The most challenging book I have read this year

And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

I’ve read many good books this year, but none as powerful and challenging as Gary Haugen’s Just Courage (InterVarsity, 2008). Haugen is the president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), a Christian human rights organization doing excellent work in the fight against human trafficking, sex slavery, and other forms of injustice. Through this inspirational and highly personal book, Haugen sounds an impassioned call for Christians to enter the fray in the struggle for justice. His argument is thoroughly grounded in Scripture, as well as on years of experience watching God work through rescue missions that pull the weak and vulnerable from the darkness. Below are some choice passages worth pondering:

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“Deep within all of us there is a yearning to be brave. And like all of our deepest, truest and best yearnings, it comes from how we were made. Courage – the power to do the right thing even when it is scary and hard – resonates deeply with the original shape of the soul… When it comes to being brave, we should picture the courage of Jesus – the power to fearlessly speak the truth, the freedom to selflessly love, the strength to unflinchingly stretch oneself on a cross. And the truth is, in our deepest core we were actually made to be like that… Who we truly are and were meant to be is evidenced more by our yearnings than by our history” (104).
Haugen asks, how do we receive the grace of courage?

“For many of us the first step is…to acknowledge and receive our rescue by God… Will you really be significant if you own that? If you live there? If you get that position? If you are included in that group? Or is your significance established because the Creator of the universe made and redeemed you?” (105-106)

“Search the promises of Scripture and take a risk… Cling to the promises of Scripture. Take a risk and live as if they were true, for they are. Courage comes in doing a brave thing” (106-108).

“In presenting before us the struggle for justice, our Maker asks: Do you want to be brave, or do you want to be safe? Jesus wants us to realize that it’s a choice, and he wants to help us make the joyful choice. Most importantly, Jesus wants us to know that he takes care of us so well that it is actually safe to be brave” (109).

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Will we settle for a comfortable and safe existence that demands little of us, or are we going to heed the call to be brave and play our part in the struggle for justice?

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