Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Book Review: Possible Stephan Bauman #ChristianBlogger @BlogForBooks @stephanjbauman
It seems there is a chorus of voices in the world calling for justice. It takes only a mere second to see untold injustices throughout the world. There have always been conscientious Christians throughout the world fighting for justice. It was his faith that led William Wilberforce to spend his life fighting the African slave trade. It was his faith that led Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the gallows of a Nazi death camp. The church today should follow these examples in addressing the injustice of our world today.
There is a myriad of organizations that fight to bring justice throughout the world in the name of Christ. Stephan Bauman would argue that we are using methods that are not as effective as they could be. He lays out a new concept of world changing, and I believe it is more in line with the teachings of Christ.
Throughout history, Western Christians have looked to world evangelism and justice missions as reaching out to the "least of these". While this is true in some sense, it adds a condescension that makes our work less effective. Sometimes we act as though we are doing for those that are not able to do for themselves. This attitude is every bit as unjust as the injustice that we have rescued victims from.
Justice missions are unjust if they deny victims their humanity. We have to frame our missions in a manner that treats victims as the ultimate agent in their own rescue, and cast Christians as brothers and sisters will to come along side victims as they build their communities. When we seek to help victims, then we should be asking them what they need to succeed instead of provided what we think they need. These types of programs dehumanize victims, and can be less than effective. We should seek to build relationships with victims and provide them the tools that they say they need. When we provide solutions for problems we don't truly understand, then we are destined to fail.
I really enjoyed this book. I found it's message very challenging to traditional thinking. I think that his ideas for world justice missions could be just as useful here in the United States as well as in the underdeveloped world. We have to preserve the dignity of those we wish to help. If we see them as victims and allow them to see themselves as victims, then we destine them for failure.
I don't think that Jesus ever intended the church to cast money toward nameless and faceless poor and hurting people. I believe that Jesus pushes use to engage in relationships with the poor and powerless. He asks us to walk in their shoes and walk along side and brothers and sisters in Christ. Regardless of the places that victims may find themselves, they are still created in the very image of their Creator. Our work among them must keep that in view. When we see the poor and powerless as less than that, then we will fail in our efforts to help them change their own communities.
I was provided a free copy of this book through Blogging For Books to provide this review.