If youth workers will consider the vision that Gary Haugen has put forth in Good News About Injustice—allowing the Scriptures to seep within their hearts and challenge their view of God, humanity and the oppressed—they will certainly be changed.
To say that Haugen speaks courageously and passionately is not enough. To say that he speaks persuasively is not enough. All that can be said is that he speaks the Truth, grounded in God’s eternal Word of justice, which carries a courage and persuasion and passion beyond us all.
“We have learned how to feed the hungry, heal the sick and shelter the homeless,” Haugen writes. “But there’s one thing we haven’t learned to do, even though his Word repeatedly calls us to the task. We haven’t learned how to rescue the oppressed.”
This is what Haugen calls the ministry of justice. He reminds us of the wealth of Scripture that speaks to God’s concern for the abused, neglected and oppressed. Using narrative and personal reflection, he presents his message in a compelling and understandable way that leaves little room for argument.
Haugen paints images that allow the reader to imagine the abuses of power that he has seen firsthand, encouraging youth to identify and confront abuses of power in their daily lives.
Most youth will be surprised by the types of abuse that other youth and children endure throughout the world. Their eyes will also be opened to the way that Christians have either bowed down or stood fast in the face of injustice. Above all, they will move from despair in the face of injustice (“What can I do?”) to a genuine hope that God has overcome the world, and therefore stands with them against oppression.
What makes this book different from other calls to action in the face of power abuse is that it offers practical action steps, inspired by Scripture, to confront injustice. The last third of the book suggests ways to expose and address many different abuses of power, including a foundational understanding of how deception and coercion bind people into oppression.
It is a valuable teaching tool that presents action as a necessary response to injustice. For youth ministers that struggle with putting flesh to ideas, Haugen offers 31 simple yet profound ways that youth can engage the ministry of justice. There are also helpful Web site addresses and Scripture references for further study.
One’s personal faith, language about God and worship will be challenged by Good News About Injustice. Youth and adults alike will be able to relate to his description of the way that injustice is often lost amid everyday details, stresses and plans. It will challenge youth to consider the way that culture pushes out the cries of a hurting world.
Haugen’s vision is much larger than he is. Youth will be called out by the same Word that captured his imagination, broke his heart and set his hands to work. If this book is taken seriously by those who work with youth, there is no limit to the lives it will impact.
Brent McDougal is pastor of Corinth Heights Baptist Church in Haleyville, Ala., and author of River of the Soul: A Spirituality Guide for Christian Youth.
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Brent McDougal is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.