A few years ago, Tenth Avenue North released a song that has recently become my anthem. “Strong Enough to Save” preaches the Gospel with the imagery of Psalm 18: “He’ll break open the skies to save those who cry out His name. The One the wind and waves obey is strong enough to save you.”
I can’t even begin to describe how this song has bolstered my faith in God.
2012 seemed to come and go, and yet when I look at the year as a whole – the particular events, places, travels, people, and conversations – I am so humbled that my Father would not only be so loving and kind to give such good gifts to me, but also that in these He revealed another gift – His faithfulness. Although 2012 was the best year yet, it certainly was not without its share of trials, temptations, and failures. And just like running water filters a handful of sand, these struggles refined my character and revealed the solid Rock on which I stand. Despite many doubts and the occasional loss of hopes and dreams, God gently yet firmly reminds me that if I but cry out His name, He is strong enough to save.
I’m not sure why it is so easy for me to forget this Gospel truth.
After all, do I not work for an established, professional, principled, and effective Christian human rights organization that rescues victims of sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression? Do I not daily pray to the Father, reaffirming His compassion for the weak, needy, poor, and marginalized, and plead that He intervene in our seemingly insurmountable cases? Do I not have the opportunity to witness miraculous rescues from situations of abuse and false imprisonment, and to rejoice with those who have been saved by His mighty hand and outstretched arm?
And I am so humbled and blessed to do so. This internship with IJM, this home I have in Nairobi, the clients that I see and meet – all of these remind of who God is: the Almighty, good, and faithful Savior of the world.
The One who saved me.
Even in the midst of this incredible work, it is easy to doubt. After all, we don’t win all of our cases, and each time justice is deferred, my heart breaks. Perhaps even more than this, the fact that our work is even needed in the first place is a grim reminder of the seemingly hopeless and dark world in which we live.
It’s all too easy to lose sight of solid land and the faithful stars and eventually shipwreck in the relentless waves of boundless questions.
Why are our clients falsely accused, physically beaten, and illegally detained, while, in a cruel twist of irony, the guilty go free? Why do some of our clients have to wait for years for their trial, much less their acquittal? Why are so many never freed from the chains of injustice at all?
Why do some children’s rapes get reported and others stay hidden from even the most watchful eyes? Why do some children receive legal and social services while others are ignored by the flawed systems that were intended to protect them? Why do some children see their perpetrators arrested, charged, and convicted while others have to live in fear of violent retribution for speaking up? And why in God’s name are children raped at all?
The Prophet Habbakuk (1:2-4) once asked similar questions:
How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
Although the winds and waves of evil and injustice may temporarily steer me off course and put me under, the same God who once calmed the winds and waves on the Sea of Galilee commands peace in my restless mind and heart.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that injustice is the rule, not the exception, in this fallen world. What is a surprise is that we can witness God’s transcendent justice reign on this earth at all.
When I see six young girls finally safe from their rapist, who will spend 120 years in prison, I am filled with hope. When I see four young men finally acquitted of baseless charges and released from false imprisonment, I am overjoyed. Every time we see God’s justice reign, we catch a beautiful glimpse of the resurrection He intends for all of creation.
|My boss, the IJM Kenya Field Office Director, celebrates with our clients rescued from prison on January 25th.|
The Christian life is full of what seem to be paradoxes. Coupled with these mysteries, the Christian life is characterized by what many theologians have described as the “already but not yet” – promises that we already possess yet those for which we also long. For example, in Christ, we already possess his righteousness yet we long to be like Him; we already possess eternal life yet we long for eternity; we already possess direct access to the Father yet we long for the day to see him face to face.
In many ways, this reality of the “already but not yet” extends beyond our individual lives and into all of creation. For Christ did not come only to redeem us, His creatures, unto Himself, but also to redeem the entirely of creation – the land and the nations that inhabit it – unto Himself. Through the Cross, the power of Satan over creation has been broken yet we long for the day when Christ will return and reign; light has entered the earth yet we long for the day when darkness will be eradicated forever; true life and love have shaken the very foundations of our world, yet we long for the day when all will finally be made new.
With this faith, we cry out to God as the prophet Habakkuk once did and plead against injustice. With this faith, we confidently know God will reply, “Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something your days that you would not believe, even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). With this faith, our eyes are opened to see that God has saved, still saves, and is always strong enough to always save. With this faith, I humbly and gratefully press on in the work to which I’ve been called.
In addition to the work of IJM Kenya, God has graciously provided opportunities for me to plant myself in my church and in this community. I joined the first church I visited, where I thoroughly enjoy playing the piano for the worship band. Along with my closest friends here, I have joined BlueSky Kenya as a volunteer in its middle school and high school youth ministries. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity to befriend and mentor young men and women who want to know God more.
Finally, don’t let my soul-searching questions mislead you – I am having so much fun here! Loving and serving the Lord along with so many new, encouraging, and faithful friends provides so much strength and joy for each day. We are enjoying our time in Kenya together, regularly watching football matches over a table of Ethiopian cuisine, rock climbing in the gym and the great outdoors, playing touch rugby at the United Nations Africa Headquarters with people from every corner of the globe, camping and exploring caves and waterfalls, traversing the safari and marveling at Africa’s wildlife, and just sitting around enjoying each other’s company. I am so blessed. As C.S. Lewis asked, “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”
I’d have to answer, “No.”
|My bro Bryce and I, staking our claim on Paradise Lost Falls.|
|My view from Lukenya Rock, where we enjoyed an entire day traditional and top-rope climbing.|
|My good friend Andrew, scaling Lukenya Rock from scratch.|
And He is strong enough to save.