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Home > Issues > 2010 > Summer > The Justice Generation

Sabari, his pregnant wife Ammani, and their two-year-old daughter Chissa are the property of another person. They live and work in a rice mill in South Asia, facing brutal beatings, starvation, and grueling labor every day.

There are missionaries and thriving churches in their region. There are also ministries that provide food, shelter, and medical care nearby. There are Christian schools where children can receive education and have an opportunity to hear the gospel. But slaves like Sabari and Ammani do not have access to these opportunities and never will under their slave masters' violent captivity.

The last 60 years of evangelical mission has focused primarily on spiritual salvation with a growing emphasis on mercy ministries-efforts to provide basic needs like food, clean water, shelter, and medicine. But the past 10 years has also seen a surge of involvement in ministries that seek to bring justice to those suffering oppression-people like Sabari and Ammani, who cannot benefit either spiritually or physically from the church's mission until they are free.

The rising concern for justice is seen most dramatically among the younger generation in the church. Christians in college, high school, even middle and elementary school are putting extraordinary emphasis on justice as part of their Christian witness, and established churches and ministries are taking notice. Even ministries that have been deeply committed to evangelism through the spoken proclamation of the gospel have begun including issues of global justice. Ministries like Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth With a Mission (YWAM), InterVarsity, the Passion movement, and scores of church youth ministries are now leading the way in mobilizing students to not only proclaim the gospel but also to work for justice in the world.

Will this passion for justice continue, or will it fade like so many other trends? And will this generation be discipled so that their zeal for justice isn't a fad, but flows above all from their zeal for God himself?

From trend to training

Communications technology, travel opportunities, and the forces of globalization have meant that young people in the church today have had more exposure to the reality of suffering and injustice in our world than any previous generation. But as my colleague Wayne Barnard, International Justice Mission's director of student ministries, has said, "The needed solutions to address [students'] passion for justice require a long-term commitment, which is challenging for a generation who cut their teeth on convenience. We've not taught them to delay gratification, so why would we expect that their passion for any issue would last beyond the first taste of disillusionment?"

Will this generation be discipled so that their zeal for justice isn't a fad, but flows above all from their zeal for god himself?

The opportunity is ripe for church leaders to guide this generation beyond fits of emotion-driven passion and the inevitable disillusionment that comes as the hard obstacles to bringing justice are encountered.

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From Issue:Justice & Evangelism, Summer 2010 | Posted: August 23, 2010

Also in this Issue: Summer 2010

Preaching Like a Prophet

Preaching Like a ProphetSubscriber Access Only

We dare not be silent about injustices, if only we can see them as God does.

Three Faces of Graceful JusticeSubscriber Access Only

These churches are combining justice and evangelism.

Seeing the WaterSubscriber Access Only

A review of Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship by Alan Hirsch and Debra Hirsch

Five Kinds of Deep PreachingSubscriber Access Only

What people really mean when they ask for "deeper" sermons.

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Rick Dalbey

August 26, 2013  10:58pm

We owe the world a demonstration. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” The church is supposed to carry on the miracle works of Jesus. We owe the world a demonstration of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul did not want converts who simply followed his line of reasoning. “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” The world needs more than a 2000 year old historical record or an intellectual arguement or even social reform. I am so encouraged by churches like Bethel in Redding California where medically verifiable healing of cancer is a weekly event where hundreds are healed monthly of various illnesses.

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